Then he went on alone into the desert, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” - 1 Kings 19:4
Every man has his breaking point. At some point, under the right circumstances, a man will say, “I’ve had enough.” Often when it comes, it is something of a surprise, and the sudden feelings of discouragement can be crushing, even to the point of wanting to die.
This was certainly the case with Elijah. He had handled the powerful king Ahab without any problem, had confronted and routed the 450 prophets of Baal with ease, and had fearlessly challenged an apostate nation in the name of the Lord. No sign of a breakdown, no hint of impending emotional collapse. But collapse he did.
It was Jezebel, a formidable woman with ferocious habits and far-reaching influence, who proved to be the last straw for Elijah. Jezebel made no attempt to have him killed, although it was undoubtedly within her power. She simply threatened him and gave him twenty-four hours to get out of town, which he did in a hurry.
We can only surmise why Elijah became so frightened. No doubt the years of tension had taken their toll. The emotional struggle with the priests of Baal would have drained the most resourceful person. The spiritual high of the mountain left him vulnerable to a spiritual low in the valley, and the sheer output of spiritual energy over an extended period had no doubt left him depleted. Then the physical strain of running before the king’s chariot could not have helped. But perhaps the straw that broke Elijah’s back was when God did no miracle to eradicate Jezebel, and Elijah realized that this enemy was not going away. She was his thorn in the flesh.
Finally Elijah lay down, disgruntled, dejected, and depressed, and announced that he was through. But the Lord cared for him tenderly and treated him to an unforgettable object lesson. A miraculous meal, a supernatural strengthening, a mighty windstorm, a violent earthquake, a raging fire, and a gentle breeze showed Elijah that God is not limited to what is mighty and spectacular. He can be equally effective through what is weak. After this object lesson, God told Elijah to get up, get going, and get on with the job. And that he did, understanding at last that the Lord does mighty things through meager means and miserable men.
When Elijah said, “I’ve had enough!” he was ready to learn that God is enough. When he thought, “I can’t!” he discovered that God can. So his depression was not all bad. In fact, it was only as he sank lower that he was raised higher. And the message for all men at all times is still, “The way to up is down.”
For Further Study: 1 Kings 19:1-18
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