Ups and downs of life
Adrenaline rush… burnout… martyr complex…
These are some of the stages of life. It happens that we go from task to task, challenges to challenges with such purpose, strength and fulfilment then we get tired and exhausted from all the pressures of life. Then self-pity sets in – poor me… nobody appreciates… nobody understands… nobody cares!
The great prophet Elijah went through all these feelings..
The 3 stages of Elijah’s journey:
On Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-46) He single-handedly went against 450 prophets in the greatest battle ever: God vs Baal – a battle without weapon, no bloodshed except what the enemy prophets did to themselves.
The single weapon Elijah used to claim victory… prayer: “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”
How did God respond? 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.”
After this Elijah had all the 450 prophets killed. From Mt Carmel to Jezreel, he also outran King Ahab who was on his chariot. v. 46
Lesson 1: God equips.
Elijah was really brave! How did he do such a daring act? God prepared him. God sent ravens to minister to him. God allowed a helpless widow to provide for him. When God sends His children on a mission, He always equips and prepares them with His mighty acts of providence. Read 1 Kings 17. Elijah experienced how God provided for his needs in ways man would not think of – through the seemingly impossible and the unlikely improbable path. God showed Elijah the kind of God He is through these experiences. He is the God of the impossible.
In the wilderness (1 Kings 19:1-8)
Then what? Elijah had all the 450 prophets of Baal killed. Ahab complained to his queen, Jezebel. The enraged queen threatened and promised to have Elijah killed. The bold Elijah who fearlessly faced 450 men ran for his life at the word of a woman!
Elijah ran to the wilderness to hide and asked to die. “Enough, Lord. I quit. Let me die like my fathers before me.” Burnout! He slept in sheer exhaustion.
God’s response? He sent an angel to touch him, wake him, feed with bread baked on hot stone and a jar of water. Not once but twice. The second time: there’s an affirmation:“Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” God said: Yes, I hear you. It is too much for you. Come and eat!
Lesson 2: God continues to provide.
Elijah was really tired. God levelled up His provision. He sent an angel to strengthen Elijah. What a great provision… how? v. 8 tells us Elijah arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. Two meals to last 40 days and 40 nights to go from the wilderness to the mountain.
Servants of God, ministers of God’s kingdom are human beings. They are not superman. They experience burnout. Important truth: God continues to equip, provide and strengthen. His replenishment continues – enough for the next journey.
On Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:9-18)
God certainly knows how the psych of man works… He gave Elijah an opportunity to rant… After physical food, God provided psychological and emotional healing. He asked the ultimate question: What are you doing here, Elijah? Huh? Did God not know? Of course, He did. He wanted Elijah to pour out what’s in his mind and heart. So Elijah enumerated all the great things he did for the Lord.
“I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Do we not also do that sometimes? Lord, look – here’s what I did.. I lead bible study, I sang in the choir, I teach Sunday School, I cook for my family. I tutor my children, I am the coordinator for camp. Me alone… and no one noticed… so unappreciated… no one cares.. I’ve had enough… let me disappear and see if they will notice! Aha… I’m sometimes like that… the great martyr. 😦
Lesson 3: Where is God in all these? In the strong wind? In the earthquake? In the fire? vv. 11-13 ‘In a sound of gentle blowing’, Elijah heard the sound of God asking him again: What are you doing, Elijah? Same answer! A list of his great deeds and sacrifices for the Lord. God replied Elijah. Read vv. 15-18
1) He gave Elijah his next assignment. Vv. 15-16
2) He gave Elijah his successor – Elisha. vv. 16-17
3) He gave Elijah assurance: you are not alone. there are 7000 other prophets like you. v. 18
God said: What are you doing here, Marlene?
Listen.. here’s my answer. You are not alone. I am here – not in the strong wind.. not in the earthquake… not in the fire.. these are the usual places of big flashy showy easily noticed events of life.. hectic schedules, heavy loads of work, stressful strivings.. you can’t hear me in all these noise and clamour. Listen, Marlene, listen to the gentle blowing of my tender touch, my soft voice calling to you… Come all you who are heavily burdened, I will give you rest. You are not alone!