After fleeing evil Queen Jezebel’s threats to kill him, Elijah, tired and hungry, sits alone and depressed by this thought – I’m the only person left in all of Israel who remains faithful to God. (I Kings 19:1-9)
An angel comes to Elijah’s aid. The angel doesn’t preach a rousing sermon or berate Elijah for his faithless thoughts. He cooks a meal and draws water for the discouraged prophet. “There, there . . .” his kind actions say. “You’ll feel better soon.”
Elijah gets a much-needed sleep, until the angel nudges him awake. “Arise and eat for the journey is too great for you,” he says. The angel’s words and actions demonstrate compassion and understanding. David, the Psalmist, wrote:
“He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14
Physical, emotional and mental fragilities impair each of us. They’re what makes us human. God considers our weaknesses in His dealings with us. He knows what they are, how we came to have them and that our weaknesses tend to lead us into seasons of discouragement.
People saw Elijah’s courage – he stood up to 450 idol worshiping leaders, he called fire down from heaven, he ran a 25 mile marathon – and they thought, there’s an invincible man. But hunger, fatigue and loneliness filled the miracle-working prophet with gloom, because he was, after all, just a man. In the New Testament, James addresses this:
“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced its crops.” (5:17,18)
“A man like us . . .” prone to human frailties like hunger, thirst and tiredness. Prone to discouragement. We want Elijah to be super-human, he wasn’t. Yet he was a courageous man of God. Which shows that we can be courageous God-worshipers too, in spite of our weaknesses.
Let’s not despise our human weaknesses, and berate ourselves that we’re not superhuman, but let’s allow our weaknesses to cause us to lean more on God.
God works through ordinary human beings like you and me, and Elijah, every day.