Before we get into 1 Kings 19, we must notice that it comes directly after 1 Kings 18.
In chapter 18 we find the famous story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal squaring off on the top of Mt. Carmel. In this event, 850 false prophets challenge Elijah (1 man!) to a “Clash of the Titans” type showdown. They build an altar and say that whoever’s God shows up and consumes the sacrifice on the altar first wins. Of course Yahweh, the true God, shows up in an amazingly powerful manner, He consumes the sacrifice, destroys the idolaters and saves Elijah’s life! You think he’d be riding high after such a victory, but then chapter 19 comes and we shockingly find Elijah fearing and fleeing. After Elijah’s victory, a messenger showed up to him with a letter, written by a woman named Jezebel (a very evil powerful woman of that day who was famous for killing Yahwehs prophets) who said in 19:2, “May the gods do to me and more also, if I don’t kill you by this time tomorrow.” Suddenly Elijah forgot every drop of theology he had ever learned and taught and in 19:3 it says “…he arose and ran for his life…” Fear welled up so quickly and so powerfully that he ran away like a little boy.
This is a disappointed man; a discouraged man. For his whole life Elijah had yearned for one thing and one thing only, he wanted to see God glorified, God made much of, in Israel. He wanted Israel to turn back to God. He wanted repentance. He wanted conversion. He wanted to be used of God in all these things, more than anything in the world. Then…he gets a message saying he’s going to be dead this time tomorrow. He realizes a stunning truth: all of his dreams are not only not going to happen, it seems like and feels like his dreams are never going to happen.
We’ve all been here. Your deepest desires, longings, yearnings, hopes, dreams, everything you’ve ever wanted to happen….ripped out of your life in a moment! ….you hold a newborn boy in your arms celebrating new life God has brought into the world, only to bury the same boy a week later. You’re a pastor who dreams of thousands of people coming to faith in your town, God is blessing your church and adding more and more new believers to the body, while at home your own daughters are running around with sex and drugs, in and out of jail after jail after jail. You open up and give your heart to that special someone and place all your hopes and dreams in them, only to have them throw it all in your face and leave you in a moment, as if there were nothing between you. You try and try and try to become pregnant and you gloriously conceive only to feel writhing pain inside a few weeks later, go to the doctor, and hear that dreadful word…miscarriage. You love Jesus and your spouse loves Jesus, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that your spouse doesn’t even like you anymore, and rather than having a peaceful joyful home its more like your just roomates.
You fill in the blank! When this crushing darkness falls, we need to learn that there is despair and discouragement that can come even to faithful Christians. And when it comes (not if) you learn what you really love, believe, treasure, and rest. Elijah’s deepest dream has been shattered, so he runs into the wilderness, and into a cave, and wanted one thing and one thing alone, to die. See 19:4? Have you been there? If not, it’s coming. But, even in his running we read that God is still caring for his needs, by making him a nice hot meal. God is so gracious and warm to us isn’t He? If He weren’t, we’d all be undone and alone in our fear and failures!!