Speaking of Life 4030 | The Myth of Isolation
Have you ever participated in a large, multi-day event that was spiritually exhilarating and yet physically exhausting? In July 2021 we held the GCI Denominational Celebration as an online event. This was the first time we ever did a virtual gathering of this magnitude, and the post-celebration comments were extremely positive and grateful, yet the on-site staff were still physically and mentally recovering weeks later.
The Old Testament story of Elijah has similar elements. Having demonstrated the power of God, having laid low the prophets of Baal, having revealed God’s supremacy beyond all doubt, and having those who witnessed the sacrifice at Mount Carmel turn and repent, Elijah is exhausted. Then when the death threats of Jezebel come, he feels alone, flees, turns inward, and becomes deeply depressed.
Elijah cannot see a way out. The salvation of Israel seems beyond hope and despite an amazing day of victory evil appears to have once again gained the upper hand.
God’s response to Elijah’s fatigue, despair, and loneliness is one of compassion and encouragement.
God provides Elijah with food and drink to gird him for the journey of revelation ahead of him – which lasted for 40 days. At the end of this journey, Elijah finds himself in a cave, where God meets him and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Let’s listen to his response:
“I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:14 (ESV)
“I only am left.” This is the falsehood Elijah tells himself. Have you ever told yourself this — have you ever convinced yourself that no one understands you, no one can help you? In our darker moments, many of us have been there.
Yet in his compassion, God reveals to Elijah the truth; he is not alone. God tells Elijah to go to Mount Horeb, where he witnesses the power of God over nature and then hears God speak to him in a low whisper. He helps Elijah wrestle with his thoughts and fears and then he reveals to Elijah that there are 7,000 who have remained pure throughout this time of apostasy in Israel.
God then goes further and sends Elijah on his way, knowing that he will encounter a companion – Elisha – whose faith and faithfulness match his own. God delivered Elijah out of loneliness and despair through the powerful reminder that he was with Elijah.
The next time you have a crisis of faith, a moment of weakness, a feeling of despair and loneliness, remember you are in the company of the great cloud of witnesses, where the greatest prophets (after Jesus) once trod. Just as God never forsook them, he will never forsake you.
God always comes to us in strength and in our dark nights of the soul – always without condemnation, always filled with love and grace. He is always there to deliver you out of the darkness, and into his eternal light.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.