So this was a crazy story. So heroic and so awesome. Like, it clearly shows how great God is. He can do anything. Then there's Elijah, the great hero of faith who totally slays like a boss in this chapter. I remember thinking that I wish I had faith like he had. He was so cool and confident. He prayed with such conviction. It was a great passage to read.
I grew up loving that story and admiring Elijah because of it. We talked about that story all the time at youth group. Everyone talked about Elijah and his awesome showdown with the prophets.
But no one ever talked about the next chapter. No one ever mentioned how things took a turn for the worse for Elijah.
See, Jezebel (bad chick) gets word of what went down. And she threatens Elijah; she says she'll do to him what he did to Baal's prophets.
Elijah loses his crap. He freaks out and runs the heck outta there. Wait, could it be the same Elijah? Like, the one who was super confident a chapter ago? The one who, just some time ago, told a widow not to be afraid? The one who's a very prophet of the Lord? That guy?
That's the one.
But then look what happens.
"But he himself went a days' journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4)
He's suicidal. Elijah. The prophet. Yes.
So he's lying under this tree and he wants to die so instead he falls asleep. Maybe he's hoping God will take him in his sleep. I don't know. But then an angel wakes him up. What do you think an angel would tell a suicidal prophet? Maybe something like, "Have faith." or "Why are you afraid?" Or how about "Do you remember God's awesomeness up on Mount Carmel?!" Of course, he says none of these things. He only says two words.
Elijah sees food next to him, so he eats and falls back to sleep. He gets awakened again. And the angel says once more, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you." So he eats. And you know what he does after that? Well the Bible tells us he got up and walked for 40 days on that food. 40. Days.
This story blew my mind for so many reasons. I could probably dissect it for hours, but I want to do some bullet points to highlight the biggest game changers.
1. You can be a strong Christian and be suicidal.
Elijah. Case in point. The dude was a prophet. He got word directly from God; if anyone had reason to not be afraid, it would have been him. Yet he still had his moments. Being suicidal doesn't make God love you any less. It doesn't mean you don't have enough faith. It doesn't mean your love for God isn't real.
I thought this was interesting. The angel tells him to eat. When you're fighting depression, it can be hard to take care of yourself. You neglect your basic needs. But before you can go on to deeper healing or spiritual things, you just gotta get some food in your system. Elijah slept and ate. He couldn't do what God was asking him to do without first taking care of the needs every living thing needs. I know you want to go tackle the word, but it starts with taking care of yourself. Go eat.
3. The journey is too great.
Not very encouraging words from an angel, eh? But he knew something; he knew that in reality, this was way too hard. There are mountains in our lives we cannot climb alone. They are too hard. That's when we need to rely on God. Elijah in his own strength could not last the journey. He needed help. You weren't meant to live this life alone.
Actually the first thing the angel tells the suicidal prophet.
Get up off your butt. I know it's hard, I know you're scared, I know you want to die. Get up. It's probably the hardest thing for someone with depression to do, but its the most essential.
Arise. Arise. Arise.
"Arise and be all that you dreamed." (Arise, Flyleaf.) You can either sit around or find the courage to get up. Sometimes that means dragging yourself forward. Sometimes it's just reaching a hand upwards to grab hold of someone who can lift you off the ground. Whatever that looks like in your life, do it. Elijah did it; in his brokenness and fear. You can too.