In 1 Kings 18, Elijah performed the impossible through God. In this chapter we learn that a drought has occurred in the land. Elijah had just asked Obadiah to tell the King that he was there. Elijah goes before the king and tells him that he is the reason for the drought. Elijah has had enough and calls them all together at Mount Caramel. It is here that God through Elijah lights the water-soaked altar and all the prophets of Baal are slain.
Elijah in 1 Kings 18 was on the mountaintop with God. He showed the idolatrous people the power of the Almighty. He proved without a shadow of a doubt that God is king, and idols have nothing on the living God!
We go from this incredible victory in chapter 18 to Elijah running scared for his life in the very next chapter. From the mountaintop, to the valley. And there’s one constant that remained for Elijah: God.
In 1 Kings 19, we learn the the cure to discouragement. The chapter begins with Elijah receiving a message from Queen Jezebel. This messenger tells Elijah that Jezebel has sworn to kill him by this time tomorrow. Of course, Elijah is afraid and he runs.
Elijah is in the wilderness, running for his life, and all he wants to do is die. Just 24 hours earlier, he had performed the greatest miracle through God, and now he’s scared for his life and on the run. So what’s the solution?
The next time we find ourselves in a situation like Elijah, remember to:
Tell God (1 Kings 19:10)
Tell Him what’s on your mind. God knew why Elijah was in the wilderness, but He wanted Elijah to admit it with his own mouth. When you’re in the valley, talk to God.
Eat a meal (1 Kings 19:6)
Get strength to carry on. Comfort food can work miracles.
Have a job (1 Kings 19:15)
Get going. Elijah couldn’t just stay in the forest for the rest of his life! He had a job to do. And so do we. There are souls that are lost, friends that need encouraging, families that need us.
Have a friend (1 Kings 19:19). Elisha would carry on the torch for Elijah. Elijah not only had God, he had Elisha. God will always be there for us, but he also gives us close friends to lean on.
If you ever find yourself in the valley, remember to talk to God, eat a meal, remember your purpose, and don’t do it alone.
2 Kings 4 records an incredible story. In verse one we are introduced to a poor widow who has just hit rock bottom. She didn’t know what to do or where to turn and in her pain and sorrow she did the only thing she knew she could do; she turned to God. She “cries out to Elisha” and the Hebrew word for “cries” literally means that she was wailing in anguish. This widow was heartbroken and in need. But this account reveals to us some comforting truths about God. By studying this account we can find peace in knowing that God has a solution to our problems.
Elisha says to her, “‘What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?’ And she said, ‘Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.’ Then he said, ‘Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside’” (2-4). This woman had nothing but a jar of oil, but not for long. She does what Elisha tells her to do and the jar of oil filled every single vessel she collected.
And that’s the end of that story. The widow came to God while she was at her lowest, and God provided for her. He gave her the oil she needed to fix her problems. The end.
But what about MY oil? Maybe you’re thinking, “When is God going to fix my problems and provide my oil? When will He give me the money for an electric bill? When will He fix my broken heart? When will God take care of me?” Let me tell you about the oil that God has given you. If you’re a christian, God has already taken care of you. He has blessed us with a gift far more precious than gold. He has promised to one day wipe away every tear from your eyes. If you’re a Christian, God is already taking care of your most valuable possession–your soul.
God has given us the oil that never runs dry. Now that’s not to say that God will do for us physically what we ask, but even if he doesn’t He has already shown us more love and care than anyone else on earth. God is more concerned with my spiritual state than my bank account. God is more concerned about my work as a Christian than my 9-5 job. God is more concerned about my soul than whether or not I am comfy here on earth.
God never promised us that if we become Christians we would be financially blessed. But He HAS promised to give us a reward like no other if we are faithful in times of trouble. God has and will provide for those who are faithful to Him.
I’d like to suggest that the account from 2 Kings 4 isn’t necessarily about the oil. It was about the widow’s faith, it was about her obedience, and it was a demonstration of the power of God. But from this account we learn that God provides for those in need, and we can find peace in knowing that our most valuable possession is in the hands of Almighty God.
Balance is that for which we hope and are vigilant to achieve. As true as this is for obedience (see 2 Kings 22.2), it is likewise needed emotionally. I’d like for us to note that optimum mental health in a fallen world is also a matter of equilibrium.
Let’s begin with the 800-pound gorilla in the room, the “gorilla” we call sadness. Why can’t we always be happy? It’s not that God did not intend for us to be happy. He created a world He described as “very good” (Genesis 1.31) and placed us into the idyllic Eden. Yet, in the exercise of our free will, we couldn’t abstain from eating the fruit of the one tree that was forbidden. Thus, when one is dealing with a broken world, sadness is going to come. We’ve even become so accustomed to its existence we create platitudes touting its presence. The Arab proverb states, “All sunshine makes a desert.” Even though sunshine is grand, weather consisting of only sunny days deviates from equilibrium bringing an environment hostile to life. Hence, it’s a bad thing. We’re left with the astounding proposition that for us to better appreciate the sunshine, we must learn to appreciate the rain.
In order to find emotional balance, one must avoid positive feedback loops. Yes, I realize this sounds counterproductive to our goal. Positive is a good thing, correct? Think of positive in this context as “plus.” It adds to. Do you want to read of a Biblical example of one caught in an emotional positive feedback loop? Read 1 Kings 18.20-19.21. Despite experiencing the glorious victory God brought over the prophets of Baal, Elijah retreats into a cave and sulks. Jezebel wants to kill him, and this is what Elijah becomes focused upon. What is Elijah’s positive feedback loop? Despite his faithfulness, his isolation reinforces his belief he is alone in the fight for God (1 Kings 19.10).
God clears up Elijah’s misconception, reminding him that there were other faithful servants of God in Israel (1 Kings 19.18). He wasn’t alone. God also gave Elijah a compatriot in Elisha. In other words, God introduced a negative feedback loop. No longer able to fixate solely on himself, Elijah undertook the mentorship of Elisha (1 Kings 19.16). Elisha, in turn, ministered to the needs of Elijah (1 Kings 19.21).
When dealing with adversity, it’s our nature to retreat into solitude. Yet, this is not what God intends for us. I’m not denying that we all need private “closet time” (Matthew 6.6). Jesus often sought solitude to pray. However, allowing ourselves to feel cut off from brethren creates a positive feedback loop accentuating our anxieties. Is it any wonder that as Christians we are commanded to focus outwardly upon others (Philippians 2.4)? We are even exhorted to assemble so we will stir one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10.24-25).
Let us not allow adversity to destroy our emotional equilibrium. Rather, let us use it, with the assistance of others, to weave richer colors into the tapestry of our lives.