Learning From Elijah
by Alan Smith 18 August 2021
Elijah said ’The Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’ 1 Kings19:10 (NRSV)
I appreciate the prophet Elijah, not because he performed miracles or challenged false prophets but because he was so honest with God about his fears. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Baal to see whose god would set fire to a sacrifice. Baal failed while God succeeded.
But Queen Jezebel told Elijah she would kill him in retaliation. Suddenly Elijah’s courage vanished. He ran, hid and asked God to let him die. Instead, God sent food to strengthen him. But Elijah still complained. He went into a cave, and when God asked why he was there Elijah repeated his complaint even after a personal display of God’s power and presence. Showing divine patience, God told him to go and anoint others who would continue to cleanse the nation.
Elijah’s honesty provides a window into how God responds to our complaints. He provided nourishment, strength, direction and help - without condemnation. Even in Elijah’s doubt, God did not abandon him.
Elijah’s story encourages me because it shows me I’m not the only believer whose courage falters. And I can be honest with God even when my emotions aren’t positive or reverent. Perhaps Elijah’s weakest moments strengthen me the most.
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