Amid the dramatic rise and fall of the kings of Judah and Israel, we meet God’s prophet, Elijah. Elijah’s stand against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:22–39) and God’s triumph—consuming the water-logged altar with fire—is one of my favorite passages. Who doesn’t love it when the true God shows up and obliterates false gods?
This past year, ministry has felt like that fight between good and evil in 1 Kings 18–19. We continue to navigate COVID-19, political unrest, and racial discord. Wavering congregants, financial uncertainty, gender identity agendas, rising global tensions, fierce debates about masks and vaccinations . . . the battles have been heavy and constant. I’ve watched my pastor husband stand firm despite repeated gut punches. In a recent study by Barna, 68 percent of pastors said they’ve felt regularly overwhelmed.
I imagine Elijah would have understood their challenges. He boldly stood against Ahab and the prophets of Baal to proclaim the true God. He endured death threats and ridicule as he purged the land of false prophets. He poured himself out physically, emotionally, and spiritually, becoming utterly exhausted. And then—when he surely longed for rest—a threat from Jezebel sent him running for his life (1 Kings 19:2).
Pastors today echo this longing for rest. In Scripture, God reveals his faithful character to weary Elijah. It reminds us that even when the battle seems unending, God knows and provides what we need to endure.
Elijah is utterly distraught and exhausted. He even asks God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4). He collapses into sleep, and when he wakes, he finds food and drink provided by the angel of the Lord. This story reminds me of when my kids were little, overly tired, and “hangry.” After a good nap and snack, they could think more clearly, obey more readily, and endure the things I asked of them.In Scripture, God reveals his faithful character to weary Elijah. It reminds us that even when the battle seems unending, God knows and provides what we need to endure. Click To Tweet
Just as parents love to give good gifts to their children, how much more does God give good gifts to us (Matt. 7:11)? God knew what Elijah needed—and he knows what you, your spouse, and your church leaders need. He will provide what you need so that you, too, can faithfully endure and obey.
We also see the compassionate pity of God. “And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you’” (I Kings 19:7). Elijah was weary and worn, and God acknowledged this.
One of the most encouraging things for my husband and me is to spend time with other pastors and their wives. We don’t take for granted the gift it is to be part of Acts 29 with so many like-minded people who “get it” when we, like Elijah, feel the journey is too great. Just as God comforts us in our affliction (2 Cor. 1:4), we are able to comfort others as we walk this often treacherous ministry road together.
God gives Elijah his very presence. God asks, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9), not because he doesn’t know, but to reveal the answer to Elijah. God allows Elijah to express his discouragement and fear. Then, rather than rebuking him, God sends a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire (I Kings 19:11–12) before speaking to him most gently—in a low whisper.
God gave his very presence to Elijah to encourage and strengthen him. And we have the Spirit of God with us today! But are we in danger of missing God’s sweet presence? In a season of great strife and weariness, are we stopping long enough to hear the low whisper of God in prayer and his Word? Sometimes we must strain to hear his soft voice.
Finally, Elijah is restored. He has napped and eaten. He’s had compassionate pity poured out on him, he’s been still and experienced God’s presence, and he’s ready to step back into ministry—even if only for a season. And then God gives Elijah a tremendous gift, a step-by-step instruction plan, a named ministry replacement, and the encouragement of knowing there’s a faithful crowd to carry on God’s calling (1 Kings 19:15–18).We don’t take for granted the gift it is to be part of Acts 29 with so many like-minded people who “get it” when we, like Elijah, feel the journey is too great. Click To Tweet
Through God’s Word, we’ve been given the same gift. We may not have detailed instructions about navigating global pandemics and societal unrest, but we do know that God is at work for our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28). We know his plans for us are good (Jer. 29:11).
As we continue to faithfully endure this season of wearying trial, may we not lose heart. This season is just that—a season—and God provides our every need. Elijah’s God is our God, too. He has a plan to strengthen each one of us for the battle at hand so we might persevere to the end for his great glory.