Elijah’s boldness and faith in confronting the prophets of Baal resulted in resounding success and mighty signs and wonders, and we see him here in a fit of post-miracle depression, hiding from the enemies his audacity has won him, feeling vulnerable and lonely. The Lord seeks him out, demonstrating to him that God’s presence does not always require a dazzling and spectacular display or accomplishment, but is there in quietness too, in the silent whisper of the heart.
And God prompts Elijah to reflect and evaluate: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
You might say God did not indulge Elijah but put him on the spot! This is the God who knows your name and knows where you live! There’s no escape, then – and that can be challenging. But it’s comforting too, because God loves us, and we belong to him.
Have there been times in your life when you felt very flat and tired after a difficult, dangerous, demanding, or very exciting time? If you felt an encounter with God then, or if you prayed during that time, can you remember how it all felt? Did God seem near to you or far away?
Elijah said to God, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” Can you remember a time when you felt very lonely and beleaguered – or maybe you feel that way at the moment! How did you find your way out of that state of mind?
In John’s Gospel (chapter 9) there’s a story about a man who was born blind. Jesus healed him, and he seriously annoyed the Temple authorities by standing up for Jesus when they questioned him. So after a few choice words they threw him out. The story says, “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’” (John 9:35). Can you find similarities and connection between Jesus seeking out the man who had been blind, and God seeking out Elijah?
Faithful God, you come looking for us. You know our story and you see how we feel. You never abandon us. When we are lonely and desolate, when we are rejected, when we are afraid, you come to find us. You bring us a new challenge, new hope, and the comfort of your company. Help us to reach deep inside at times like this, to find the faith to respond to all that your love asks of us today. In Jesus’ holy name; Amen.