Elijah was a heroic prophet, without question. He was also a man of great humility, as we have seen. But let’s keep in mind that he was just a man—a human being, subject to the human condition, as we all are. He suffered discouragement, despondency, and depression. On one occasion, he couldn’t shake it.
It is not surprising that at this point in Elijah’s life the great prophet hit bottom. For several years he had stood strong amidst and against almost insurmountable odds and circumstances. But now, after a great victory, he dropped into the throes of discouragement and total despair.
He’s a man, he’s human, just like us, remember. Since this is true, we shouldn’t be shocked to read that
He was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:3–4)
I’m glad that this chapter has been included in Scripture. I’m glad that when God paints the portraits of His men and women, He paints them warts and all. He doesn’t ignore their weaknesses or hide their failures.
Elijah had to get his eyes back on the Lord. That was absolutely essential. He had been used mightily, but it was the Lord who made him mighty. He stood strong against the enemy, but it was the Lord who had given him the strength.
Often we are more enamored with the gifts God gives us than with the Giver Himself. When the Lord brings rest and refreshment, we become more grateful for the rest and refreshment than for the God who allows it. When God gives us a good friend, we become absorbed in that friendship and so preoccupied with the friend that we forget it was our gracious God who gave us the friend. How easy to focus on the wrong things.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.