“It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings xix, 4b.
What might a soldier do when he’s sure that he will be captured, tortured and killed? What if he knows that his side is defeated and that he is the only soldier left standing? With the option of victory ruled out, the option of death alone remains. When one sees nothing but death ahead of him, he might opt for an honorable death. He might turn his gun on himself to avoid the indignity of dying at the hands of the enemy.
When the wicked queen Jezebel issued a death warrant against him, Elijah knew that his end was near. He was the only prophet of Yahweh in Israel. He thought his lone campaign for Yahweh had failed. Blinded by fear and sorrow, he could see nothing but defeat and death. Now the choice was not between life and death or between victory and defeat. The only “visible” choice was between an honorable death and a dishonorable death. A worthy exit was all that Elijah desired. He didn’t wish to die at Jezebel’s hands. Neither did he wish to kill himself. The only “solution” was to ask God to take away his life. Elijah went far away from civilization into a desert, sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” And then, he fell asleep.
God’s response to Elijah’s hopeless situation is marvelous indeed. He let the tired prophet sleep well. He arranged for “room service” and angelic assistance. After eating the heavenly cake “baked on hot stones” and drinking a jar of water, Elijah went back to sleep. God sent the famished prophet a second super-charged meal. The man was so strengthened that he walked forty days and nights to the mountain of God without refueling on the way!
Although a tired man needs good food and rest more than he needs a sermon, restoration and repair comes from God’s Word. Elijah wasn’t delivered from his fears or feelings of hopelessness until he heard God speak through the “sound of sheer silence.” That’s when God opened his eyes to see the options of life and victorious ministry. He was ordered to go and anoint a king over Aram and a king over Israel and prophetic successor Elisha. And if that couldn’t take away his fear, God showed him that the battle was far from over. God bared his sword and said, “Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.” And what about Elijah’s fears that he alone was left for Yahweh? God had a solution for that too. “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal …”
If you are a servant of God, remember that you’re always on the winning side. Defeat is not an option. Even when you think you’re alone, you are a majority. God might use you to replace even kings who stand in God’s way! “God is bigger than any problem that you can or cannot see!”