Proper 14 (B), August 10, 2003
1 Kings 19:1-8
“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.
“But the people said nothing” (1 Kings 18:21).
It was a showdown. “High Noon” starring the prophet Elijah. The
odds were 850 to l. Elijah figured that was just about right.
For Elijah, the day ended with a victory of epic proportions. Yet how
quickly the highest of highs may be followed by the lowest of lows.
I. Difficult Days
Elijah had dared to destroy Jezebel’s pet prophets. It was
Jezebel who had promoted and popularized idolatry in the land. Now
850 of her finest would serve her false gods no more. She sent this
word to Elijah: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely,
if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of
The highest of highs can quickly be followed by the lowest of
lows. Here was a man whose life was on the line. Here was a man whose
life was threatened by someone who had no qualms about killing him –
she had, in fact, already killed many of his kind.
It was certainly a difficult day, yet for a man who had just
witnessed a tremendous outpouring of God’s power, we need to ask –
Why was he so quick to respond in fear rather than faith? We’ve
all heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get
going” and that certainly described this prophet of God as he got
going. He ran away!
Mountain-top experiences may be followed by depressing days in the
valley. In the movie, “Kramer vs Kramer,” Dustin Hoffman arrives home
from “one of the three biggest days of my life,” only to discover his
wife is walking out on him. Have you ever said, “Just when it all
seemed to come together, it all fell apart?”
II. Deadly Depression
An NFL football player described his first day of training camp,
“I thought I was going to die.” On the second day he says you start
to wish that you would die. The third day is the toughest of all
because then it comes to you that you aren’t going to die!
Isn’t it strange that some reach the point where they are
disappointed that they are not going to die. It’s a state we can call
“Take my life, Lord.” This was Elijah’s prayer.
I’m giving up. I’ve accomplished nothing. My life’s worthless;
it’s all been in vain. Expressions of deadly depression are more
commonplace than we care to admit.
John the Baptist once saw the Holy Spirit descend as a dove upon
Jesus. He heard the voice of God from heaven proclaiming, “This is my
Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” If anybody could have
ever been sure as to the identity of Jesus, it would have been John.
Yet from prison John sends messengers to Jesus asking if He is the
Depression is like this. It causes one to doubt reality. It’s easy
to doubt in the darkness what first we came to believe in the light.
Even John needed some reassurance when depressed. But the story need
not end with depressing days.
III. Dining in the Desert
It would almost seem incidental to say he slept. But the
Scripture records it as significant. An angel prepared a simple meal.
Elijah was dining in the desert. Overcoming depression demands we pay
attention to the most basic of physical needs: Food, drink and rest.
I remember a friend wearing on odd-looking T-shirt that was
inscribed PBPGIFWMY! That jumble of letters inevitably invites the
question, “What does that mean?”
Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet!
God isn’t finished with you yet just as God wasn’t finished with
Elijah. Depression threatens our ability to minister for the Lord. I
love the ending of this Elijah running for his life narrative. Do you
know what God does? He sends him right back from where he came, to
anoint his own successor as well as two new kings. God wasn’t
finished, Elijah had work to do, depressed or not.
Sermon brief provided by: Dan Nicksich, Somerset, PA