But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (I Kings 19:4)
It would seem each of us has a breaking point. A place we all come to at some stage when we finally say, “That’s it! I’ve had enough!” At some point, under the right set circumstances, we all will either utter the words or say them in our mind. Sometimes depending on the severity and difficulty of the issues, we may give in to discouragement, depression and despair.
This was certainly the case with Elijah. Elijah had handled the powerful King Ahab without any trouble, he confronted 450 prophets of Baal easily and fearlessly challenged nation of people worshipping false gods in the name of the Lord. Facing all these circumstances and challenges, Elijah demonstrated no sign of breakdown nor any hint of emotional collapse. I am so glad the Lord allows us to see the good, the bad and the ugly concerning the heroes of faith, because while Elijah came through these circumstances unscathed an emotional collapse was just around the corner.
His breaking point came concerning a woman named Jezebel. She was an evil woman with far reaching influence. While she made no attempt to kill Elijah, it would have been within her power to do so. Instead, she simply told Elijah he had 24 hours to leave or else, which he did in a hurry.
We can only speculate as to why Elijah became so frightened. More than likely the years of tension and contention among pagan nations had taken their toll on him. The spiritual highs he felt from defeating the prophets of Baal, left him vulnerable to a spiritual low in the valley. The sheer output of energy battling spiritual warfare for an extended time had left him depleted. Perhaps what broke Elijah’s back was God offered no miracle to remove Jezebel, therefore Elijah knew she wasn’t going away…at least not that he was aware of yet. She was going to be his thorn in the flesh or pain in the neck, if you will.
Eventually Elijah disgruntled, depressed and full of despair announced he was through. He found a cave and went inside to lay down. He had totally given up, feeling as though he was completely alone in the battle. But the Lord cared for him and demonstrated an unforgettable object lesson. God instructed Elijah to stand at the edge of the cave and the Lord passed by…in doing so Elijah observed a mighty windstorm, a violent earthquake, and a raging fire but the Lord was in none of these.
Finally, it was in a gentle breeze through which the Lord spoke. This was all demonstrating to Elijah God not only works through what is mighty and spectacular; He also equally and effectively works through things which may appear weak.
Through this gentle breeze, God told Elijah to get up, get going and get back on the job. He ensured Elijah he was not alone in his work…in fact there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed to Baal, which the Lord was leaving. Elijah did as he was instructed, now understanding the Lord can do mighty things through meager means and miserable servants.
It seems the times we struggle most with the idea of giving up is when we feel the loneliest. Those times when we feel we are in the battle alone. However, we must remember the Lord is always there with us, even if we only hear Him through a small and gentle breeze.
The next time you feel down, discouraged and alone doing the Lord’s work, remember the Lord plus one will always be a majority in accomplishing HIs work.