Life can be great; it can be challenging. Ups bring joy, and downs deep despair. Sometimes, it seems as if we’ve descended too deeply to return to the status quo, let alone ascend to joy or elation! If this describes your state of being sometimes, as it can mine, we’re in good company! This week, I’ll introduce you to Elijah, who went from great joy and confidence to deep despair in a hurry.
Elijah lived and prophesied during the reign of Ahab, uttering God’s words to an unfaithful Israel: Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” (1Kings 17:1)
Many of you already know of God’s victory against Ahab, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal. But, just in case you don’t . . . Through Elijah, God informed rebellious Israel that He would bring drought. And why not? Sometimes, it’s good for entitled people to remember just how powerless they are and how much better off they’d be if they’d honor a relationship with God! Evil Queen Jezebel, who forsook the God of her ancestors (e.g., 1Kings 18:18-19), consorted with prophets of the lesser god Baal (the god of the Canaanites). In a showdown, Baal’s prophets couldn’t coax Baal into consuming a sacrifice with fire despite dancing, yelling, and flesh cutting (1Kings 18:26-29). God’s turn.
No yelling. No cutting. No dancing. Elijah’s prayer was simple, and God’s response instant and complete. Fire from the sky consumed the sacrifice and the water Elijah had drenched it in (1Kings 18:30-39)! Elation for Elijah! But the joy wouldn’t last.
As you can imagine, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel weren’t pleased! They chased Elijah, who ran for days to escape their wrath. Discouraged and tired, he wished he were dead (1Kings 19:4). What a departure from the incredible elation of just a few days earlier when he basked in the glory of God’s victory! But swinging between highs and lows is what we often do as humans as the memories of successes and excellent stuff fade.
God nursed Elijah back to health and spoke to him. In a thunderous voice? No. In the middle of great wind or earthquake? No. The quiet space was God’s medium for parlaying with Elijah (1Kings 19:9-13). Our moods swing, but God is loving, patient, and faithful in responding to His children. You are one . . . right? If you aren’t (or aren’t sure), let’s talk! Regardless, listen carefully as God may speak to you in ways and places you don’t expect!
In summary, be on God’s side to help overcome adversity and deep depression. In the following article, we’ll revisit something many of us learned as kids: “Be careful little eye what you see, little ear what you hear!”
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley, MDiv, DMin.