Elijah was a man of faith. Robust faith! He asked that it would stop raining, and it stopped. He asked for fire to come down from Heaven, and it did. He asked for rain after three and a half years of drought, and it rained. This faith filled him with the courage to speak fearlessly, calling out the people for their apostasy and challenging the powerful in the kingdom to make better choices.
All of this faith and all of these experiences contribute to making his depression, or at least his crisis of discouragement, all the more striking. How could he? There are a few points that stand out to me that I’d like to share with you.
The God of Israel – My God
In the face of a great and serious problem that involved the nation, Elijah stood firm, believing that God was going to act. The nation was given over to idols and needed to remember who the God of heaven was, the true God, the Almighty. The cause was noble. A nation needed to wake up and be saved.
But when the problem became “small”, “just one person’s life”, he despaired and fled. I don’t want it to seem like the problem was small. There are some people who scoff, saying that Elijah ran away from a woman. People! That woman was the queen, wicked as a witch and with an army at her command. On top of that, Elijah was completely exhausted. He had lived in hiding for a long time, and that day on Mount Carmel had been intense, watching to ensure that the false prophets did not set fire to the altar. He was sure that after that splendid demonstration, not only the people but also the queen (who ruled over the king) would be converted and his mission would have been a success. Then, when he was awakened at dawn and received the news that he was going to be killed, his heart sank, and in his rush to run for his life, he didn’t even remember God.
Here’s something that we do too. We believe in a powerful God who created and maintains universes. We have faith. But when it comes to our problems, we are not worthy of God’s care. We forget that Christ would have come to save a single soul. God likes to solve our problems. He specializes in solving huge problems for such small people!
Only I am left
Elijah left his servant somewhere and kept on walking. He wanted to be alone. To think about life? To hide his apparent failure? He was exhausted to the point he asked God to take his life. Contradictory, isn’t it? He ran away to avoid death, but now he wanted to die. When God asked why he was there, he replied that “he had done everything right, but the people had abandoned the covenant, killed the prophets, and he was the only one left.” Elijah knew this wasn’t true. When he had met with Obadiah and ordered him to go and call the king, Obadiah said he had hidden 100 prophets (1 Kings 18:13). That would have been 101 prophets of God, counting with Elijah, in addition to the many who had spoken out loud at Mount Carmel saying “The Lord is God!” Elias was not alone, but his pain was so great that it overrode reason. He would only look at his pain and got stuck in it. Today we call this “victimism”. When something terrible happens in our life, if we keep dwelling on it and remembering it, “caressing” what happened, we make ourselves the victim of the situation. The more we wallow in this self-pity, the more we suffer. Please understand that I am not minimizing your pain. Pain is real, and it hurts. But, we need to seek help, healing, otherwise, it forms a vicious circle and life stops.
“It is not wise to gather together all the unpleasant recollections of a past life,—its iniquities and disappointments,—to talk over them and mourn over them until we are overwhelmed with discouragement. A discouraged soul is filled with darkness, shutting out the light of God from his own soul and casting a shadow upon the pathway of others.”Steps to Christ, p. 117
Sometimes it takes a jolt to get out of this situation, and that’s what our God did for Elijah!
God’s care for His prophet
Our God! How wonderful He is! There is no love like His. He was taking care of Elijah the whole time. He sent an angel to take care of him while he slept. He sent food. Can you imagine being woken up with a fresh loaf of bread baked on coals? Then God ordered a lot of walking. Do you see how God first used what is within reach of humanity? It seems simple, but in this experience, we have a set of very important tasks for our body, implemented by the Creator, and which are being widely proven by neuroscience. There are many studies talking about the benefits of an adequate sleep routine, a healthy diet, exercise, confidence, and proper breathing. This influences the brain and even the emotions.
But Elijah was still quite ill. I think that if God had arrived to talk to him calmly, he would not have noticed. He was so focused on his pain. Then came the supernatural part.
God sent a wind that shook the mountains and rocks, an earthquake, and fire. It shook everything! Elijah got up to see what was going on, and a gentle breeze enveloped him in His peace.
“What are you doing here, Elijah? Why are you like this?” He responded with the same litany, trying to justify himself: “I did what was right, these people are wrong, they killed everyone and only I remained.” I imagine the loving smile of God speaking to Elijah: “My son, I have seven thousand more that did not bend their knees to Baal. You are not alone.”
A new mission
Then, as if nothing had happened (because our Father is like that, He forgives, forgets, and readily offers us a new chance), God confirmed Elijah as His prophet, giving him a new mission.
Today we have an important task before us:
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” [Isaiah 58:6-7] This is the recipe that Christ has prescribed for the fainthearted, doubting, trembling soul. Let the sorrowful ones, who walk mournfully before the Lord, arise and help someone who needs help.Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 266.
The story of Elijah taught me that everyone goes through dark valleys, including those who have faith, because sometimes faith falters, and that’s human. But the most precious lesson is that our God is the same one who cared for Elijah. Wise, merciful, and compassionate.
“Bear in mind that God will give you songs in the night. Darkness may seem to enclose you, but you are not to look at the clouds. Beyond the darkest cloud there is an ever-shining light. The Lord has light for every soul. Open the door of the heart to hope, peace, and joy.”Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 137
Article photo: @gaby_anunfinishedstory