You May Not Resign!
Mighty and Gentle Creator, when I wonder if the details of my life are important to You, I remember how You clothe the flowers.
Read 1 KINGS 19:1-21
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
There will be times when peace departs, troubles mount and prayers seem unanswered. Then is the time to remember–God will never disappoint us!
As so often, there are puzzles in this story–but I leave them aside. The repeated question (9,13) gets the same word-perfect (but incorrect) answer (10,14), so what was the theophany (11-13) for? Did Elijah see it, because he doesn’t seem to get outside the cave until verse 13? What did Elijah’s reply to Elisha (20b) actually mean? Is this story really about Elijah’s resignation? He did not actually carry out any of the three anointings (at least we are not told he did).
I reflect on the resonances between the story of Elijah and that of Moses–the despair (Num. 11:15), Horeb, the 40 days and nights, the cave or rock-cleft, the revelation, the hidden face, the (re)commissioning. I analyze for myself the ingredients of Elijah’s distress–emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual. I marvel at the gentleness of God’s therapy–the sleep, food and drink; the recall to the roots of Israel’s covenant and faith and mission; and the quiet, repeated question (distressed people don’t always hear you the first time). In fact, God calls Elijah to hard and ominous tasks (“Hazael” and “Jehu” are words with a threatening sound to the readers of Kings), but he also provides Elisha, a colleague and assistant.
It would appear that Elijah was the greatest prophet between Moses and John the Baptist. I finish my meditation by reflecting on two New Testament passages. In the transfiguration story (Matt. 17:1-13) not only does Elijah appear with Moses, but Jesus specifically refers to how John the Baptist had been treated in an Elijah-like way (see also Mal. 4:5). Romans 11 starts with two questions: “Has God repudiated his people?” and “Have they fallen to rise no more?” The answer to both is, “Absolutely not!” From Paul’s own story and Elijah’s story it is clear: there is a remnant chosen by grace.
Who do you know to be depressed, thinking of resigning, inclined to give up, exhausted? What can you do to minister encouragement to them?
Faithful God, what a joy it is to know that You never let me down, never let me go, never give up on me. I feel the infusion of strength this knowledge brings.