Elijah came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. Then he lay down and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is to much for you.” I Kings 19:4-7
If someone insisted I get up and eat – twice – (especially an angel of the Lord), you think I’d hesitate? Not a chance. Unless it was food I found distasteful, not suitable for human consumption, or threatened an allergic reaction.
But what if the command came while I was sleeping, so emotionally spent by fear and anxiety that I wanted to die? Maybe then I’d pass on a free meal and go back to sleep.
That’s what Elijah did.
Following God’s impressive use of Elijah on Mount Carmel where He made complete fools of the prophets of Baal, God did the impossible and sent fire down onto a sopping wet altar. (I Kings 18:16-38)
At some point afterward, Elijah learned via Jezebel’s messenger that she intended to kill him. Fear for his life had him running south to Beersheba in Judah. Understandably, the guy became exhausted. ’Spent’ as we say. Add to that, the Israelites had not maintained faithfulness to God.
Elijah had to feel like a single parent of hundreds of rebellious children. Heck, tangling with just one disobedient child can suck the life out a soul.
Food and eating was the last thing on Elijah’s mind. Who can eat when certain death loomed? Even I’d pass on food and eating at a time like that.
“I have had enough, Lord.”
Can I get an amen?
The angel of the Lord wasn’t being unsympathetic in his response to Elijah’s heart cry.
It was a call to press on, persist in the journey, and take and eat the nourishment before him so he’d be strengthened for the days ahead.
No pity party here. Rather, the angel offered sustenance to carry on.
Let me just say, the last response I need when in the dumps isn’t one soaked with pity. A compassionate ‘I’m so sorry’ is always appropriate. But beyond that pity is, well, pitiful. As a Christian, I can do far more to strengthen the body of Christ if I urge a fellow brother or sister in Christ to take his stand out on the field and continue to fight with his hand frozen to the sword.
It doesn’t take much more than a fiery ‘Don’t let Satan step your joy’ reminder for me to wake up from a spiritual slumber and to fix my gaze back on Jesus.
For the journey ahead may be long. Adequate nourishment is essential.
What about you? When life hits hard, do you stay curled up in a pitiful ball or are you willing to get up and eat?