Church Today: Living like Elijah
Every preacher admires Elijah. He is an incredible faith-builder. He walks with God, who uses him to challenge corrupt, pagan kings. He is not intimidated by the fact that there are hundreds of prophets of Baal, and that they are trying to turn Israel away from worshipping God.
This one man, this single figure who believes that he is the only one who is willing to stand and preach truth and righteousness, goes so far as to challenge every prophet of Baal to determine whose God is in control. We all know the story. The prophets of Baal attempt, to the point of exhaustion, to call down fire from heaven. They begin to mutilate their own bodies, but after they have expanded all of their energies, no fire comes.
Elijah rebuilds the altar and, to prove that God will show Himself by defying all odds that are stacked against Him, commands that a trench be dug, with water to fill it after saturating the sacrifice and wood. Fire comes from heaven as the true God confirms His identity, and the prophet takes care of the remaining false prophets.
This makes the king, and particularly his wife, so angry that Elijah’s life is now in danger. He goes to the backside of the desert; a lonely place. He is completely overwhelmed by this turn of events in his life, even after seeing God do amazing miracles, and after being provided for with food in this desert. We might speculate that Elijah somehow forgets about the fire that fell from heaven when he feels that his life is being threatened by the pagan queen.
James 5:17 reminds us that “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are…” This perspective helps me to remember that, in ministry, we will have good and bad days. We’re going to see the miraculous poured out, and then, we’re going to go through moments where we feel that we’re being pursued by wicked kings who are going to kill us.
What it tells me is that, even in our darkest hour, in those moments when we’re ready to give up, it doesn’t mean that God has ever given up. And even though we might feel that we’re failures, because we struggle with darkness, like depression, and anxiety, and the pressures of this world – it doesn’t mean that we have failed God, and it doesn’t mean that we have failed ourselves. It simply means that we’re human.
We read that God sent an angel to encourage Elijah, and that he went on and ministered again. Even in his darkest hour, Elijah was not overcome. I’ve come to the conclusion that the great men of God who I have been privileged to glean from have had both good and bad days. From their testimony, as well as my own, I believe that it’s those darkest hours that truly define our relationship with God. Because it’s easy to live for God when it’s easy. But when it isn’t easy, our commitment and character are defined.