Have you ever felt as if life is just too much to handle? You finally finish one battle, and before you can even sit down, something else happens. If so, you’re in good company. The prophet Elijah definitely felt that way. (I have too, but Elijah seems like a more credible example.)
Of all the stories about Elijah’s life, my favorite isn’t any of his victories, it’s one where he begged God to kill him. It shows his humanness. We often remember the highlights of his life and forget he was a human, just like us.
Check out 1 Kings 18 for the whole story, but here is the brief version. There was a showdown between the prophets of Baal and Elijah. Think of it like a game of “our god is better than your God.” To settle the matter, they decided on fire. (Remember, this was the old testament, sacrifices to God, usually included fire.) The odds didn’t look good for Elijah, 450 prophets of Baal to 1 man of God, but God never sees numbers as an issue. The prophets and Elijah both prepared a bull for sacrifice. Whichever one caught on fire, with no help from the humans, would win, and prove who was God.
The prophets of Baal tried for hours to get Baal to send fire heaven to consume their sacrificial bull while Elijah trash talked. They didn’t even get a spark. Finally, Elijah had enough. He knew what would happen. So he had people pour water all over the bull and the wood that should catch fire. He wanted it to be clear, God could take something that couldn’t be set on fire, and make it burn for everyone to see. That’s exactly what happened. When the people of Israel realized just how holy and powerful God was, Elijah told them to kill every last prophet of Baal.
Elijah was exhausted when Queen Jezebel was informed about what happened to her 450 prophets. This was her reply:
“So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 1 Kings 19:2 (NIV)
Elijah had enough. He was done. The battle, though victorious, left him exhausted and tired of having to prove Who God is. So he ran away. Have you ever wanted to do that? I know I have. He ran away, sat down under a broom bush, and asked God to kill him. Then he fell asleep. I can completely relate to this. Even a victory doesn’t make the next battle easier when you’re worn out and it feels like someone wants you dead. Sometimes it just feels like you can’t get a break.
What fascinates me is how God responded to Elijah. One chapter before He used fire to show His power, this time, He used food. He knew Elijah didn’t need to be punished or even lectured. He needed some healing in his body and soul.
“While he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush 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 too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.” 1 Kings 19:4-9 (NIV)
Let that sink in for a bit. No condemnation, lightning bolt, it was just God caring for someone He loves.
God loves you just as much as anyone in the bible.
This is the line that always gets me “the journey is too much for you.” God will never send us on a journey that’s too much. If we’re determined to do something in our own strength and our own way, He will let us, but He never stops loving us. He’d prefer we listen to Him from the beginning so we’re spared the pain and frustration we feel when we do it in our own strength, but when we finally reach the end of ourselves and surrender to Him, He’s there. He wants us to know the journey is too much for us on our own.
If you continue to read that passage, (and I highly recommend it!) you’ll see Elijah did continue on his journey for another 40 days. At first that seems to contradict what God just said to him, but it doesn’t. The journey was too much for Elijah. The journey wasn’t too much for Elijah when he let God be in charge.
You were never meant to face life alone. God is waiting to guide you and care for you.
The journey of life is too much for you alone. It’s not too much for you and God.
I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment on the blog. Can you relate to Elijah? Can you think of a time God showed you how much He loved you?
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