1 Kings 19:11a The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Is there anything you’re going through that you feel you won’t get through? Storms in life can do that. Bad news can knock you to your knees. Hurts and grief that never seem to heal. Past pain robs us of any present joy. It could be the loss of a loved one, a habit that is controlling you, or a financial setback that you don’t think you’ll ever recover from. You may never get over it, but God wants you to know that you will get through it.
As a follower of Christ, you are an eternal being, but your pain is temporary. Although there are some losses in this life which we may never get over this side of heaven, we can get through them with God’s power. Elijah is an example of how we can find God’s strength for our greatest struggles.
Elijah struggled with anxiety and depression. He was a mighty prophet of God, but he was also just a man subject to the same issues you and I face as well. James 5:17 tells us, “Elijah was a man with a nature just like our own….” That’s a great description because it brings these spiritual giants down to our size.
It also demonstrates the integrity of Scripture. The Bible doesn’t hide the humanness of God’s servants so we can identify with them. Like us, Elijah was an ordinary man. Too often we tend to think God only uses superstars. But just look at the characters in the Bible that God used for a moment. They were just ordinary men and women with similar weaknesses to our own.
Gideon was insecure; Peter denied Christ; David committed adultery and murder; Jacob was a cheat and schemer; Samuel was too young; Sarah was too old; Lazarus was too dead! The list goes on! What’s your excuse for why God can’t use you?
God has a remarkable way of choosing a nobody to be somebody without consulting anybody! Elijah was chosen to be God’s prophet of fury. He called fire down from heaven and raised the dead, but he suffered from depression. He could work a mighty miracle one minute and threaten suicide the next. His ministry and life seemed bipolar. His faith turned to fear and discouragement as his courage melted.
This man who stood alone, mighty in spirit against an idol-worshipping nation and 850 false prophets of Baal, ran in fear from a woman named Jezebel. He experienced the black hole of depression. Tired, worn out, and exhausted, Elijah withdrew and hid himself in a cave. What caused his depression?
Depression is multifaceted. It could be a combination of circumstances, mental or physical health, and spiritual attack. Depression isn’t a sin. You can make sinful choices when you’re depressed but feeling depressed is not a sin.
Elijah was physically exhausted and on the other side of one of his greatest victories. How often our greatest victories are followed by defeat. It’s when the enemy comes in like a flood to discourage us. Elijah was discouraged when he surveyed the landscape of Israel and couldn’t see any future for the nation. He thought he was the only one left who served God. And even though he asked God to kill him, he didn’t really want to die. If he had wanted to die, he could have just hung around, Jezebel would have accommodated him! After all, he was on her most wanted list to die!
Elijah’s story is our story as well. Through his story we find God’s strength in our greatest struggle and with God’s help, we will get through whatever we are facing that seems so impossible to get through. How did Elijah get through it?
The first challenge was to draw Elijah out of the cave of isolation. In 1 Kings 19:11a, the Bible tells us that God spoke to him and said, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” God used his greatest struggle to get his attention. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
What is the pain you’re feeling that cries out to God? God uses our greatest struggles to get our attention. Are you at the mountain of attention before God? It may not feel like it but you’re in a good place. Like Elijah, if God brought you to it, God will see you through it!