Adrenaline rush… burnout… martyr complex…
These are some of the stages of life. How often do we, you and I, go from task to task, challenges to challenges with such purpose, strength and fulfilment.. then we get tired and exhausted from all the pressures of life.. then we pity ourselves.. miserable me… nobody like me.. nobody understands… nobody cares…
The great prophet Elijah went through all these feelings.
The mountains and valleys of Elijah’s journey:
1) On Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-46) He single-handedly went against 450 prophets in the greatest battle ever: God vs Baal – a battle without weapon, no bloodshed except what the enemy prophets did to themselves.
The single weapon Elijah used to claim victory… prayer! “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”
How did God respond? 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.”
After this Elijah had all the 450 prophets killed. From Mt Carmel to Jezreel, he also outran King Ahab who was on his chariot. v. 46
Lesson 1: God equips.
Whoa… how brave Elijah was! How could he do such a daring act? God prepared him. God sent ravens to minister to him. God allowed a helpless widow to provide for him. When God sends His children on a mission, He always equips and prepares them with His mighty acts of providence. Read 1 Kings 18.
2) In the wilderness (1 Kings 19:1-8)
Then what? Elijah had all the 450 prophets of Baal killed. Si King Ahab, complained to Queen Jezebel. That upset the queen. She promised (threatened) to have Elijah killed. The bold Elijah who fearlessly faced 450 men ran for his life at the word of a woman!
Elijah ran to the wilderness to hide and asked to die. “Enough, Lord. I quit! Let me die like my fathers before me.” Burnout! He slept in sheer exhaustion.
God’s response? He sent an angel to touch him, wake him, feed with bread baked on hot stone and a jar of water. Not once but twice. The second time: there’s an affirmation:“Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” God said: I hear you. It is too much for you. Come and eat!
Lesson 2: God continues to provide.
Whoa… how tired Elijah was. God levelled up His provision. He sent an angel to strengthen Elijah. What great provision… How great? v. 8 tells us Elijah arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. Two meals to last 40 days and 40 nights to go from the wilderness to the mountain.
Servants of God, ministers of God’s kingdom are human beings. They are not superman. They experience burnout. Important truth: God continues to equip, provide and strengthen. His replenishment continues – enough for the next journey.
3) On Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:9-18)
God certainly knows how the psych of man. He gave Elijah an opportunity to rant. After physical food, God provided psychological and emotional healing. He asked the ultimate question: What are you doing here, Elijah? Huh? Did He not know? Of course, He did. He let Elijah sound it all out. So Elijah enumerated all the great things he did for the Lord.
“I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Do we not also do that sometimes? Lord, look – here’s what I did.. I lead bible study, I sang in the choir, I teach Sunday School, I cook for my family. I tutor my children, I clean the house. I helped a friend. Only me and nobody noticed.. unappreciated… no one cares.. Enough! Let me disappear and see if they will notice! Aha… that’s me sometimes… martyr complex!
Lesson 3: Where is God in all these? In the strong wind? In the earthquake? In the fire? vv. 11-13 ‘In a sound of gentle blowing’, Elijah heard the sound of God asking him again: What are you doing, Elijah? Same answer! A list of his great deeds and sacrifices for the Lord. God replied Elijah. Read vv. 15-18.
1) He gave Elijah his next assignment.vv 15-16
2) He gave Elijah his successor – Elisha. vv.16-17
3) He gave Elijah assurance: you are not alone. there are 7000 other prophets like you. v. 18
What are you doing here, Marlene? God says: Listen.. here’s my answer. You are not alone. I am here – not in the strong wind.. not in the earthquake… not in the fire.. these are the usual places of big flashy showy easily noticed events of life.. hectic schedules, heavy loads of work, stressful strivings..
You can’t possibly hear me in all these noises and clamour. Listen, Marlene, listen to the gentle whisper of my calling, my tender touch, my soft voice telling you… “Come you who are heavily ladened, I will give you rest.” You are not alone!
Adrenaline rush… burnout… martyr complex…