by Christopher Harbin

Strength to Draw Near
Christopher B. Harbin
1st Kings 19:3-10

Where and how do we find the strength to draw near to God? When all seems lost, is there really a way forward?
Elijah was a depressed man. He was disappointed, frustrated, dejected, emotionally drained, and grieving over a sense of failure to having made a difference. On one level, his depression seems so disproportionate to the victory over 450 prophets of Ba'al just witnessed in the previous chapter. If anything, he should have been basking in the wonder of being used in such an amazing manner by God. In reality, the great victory to him was emptied of any value by the death threats issued by the queen.
He had hoped the face-off with the prophets of Ba'al would have served to usher in a new era in Israel's relationship with Yahweh. That was the validation he had truly been seeking. With those hopes crushed, his life seemed emptied of purpose. He saw no reason to go on. There was no longer any point in serving God, as it did not seem to make any difference at the end of the day.
Why struggle to take a stand against the power structures of Israel, knowing they would never bow to the will and authority of Yahweh? Why keep on in the battle to rid Israel of its idols, when even the king of Israel would not worship Yahweh, even after the demonstration of Yahweh's power at Carmel? There was just no point.
Elijah did not want to be killed by the idolatrous queen. That would simply be disastrous. At the same time, he was ready to give up, roll over, and play dead. He ran from her clutches and made his bed under a bush to shrivel up and die.
The battle was over. He had witnessed an astounding victory, but he had lost the war. The power structures of Israel would not submit to Yahweh's direction.
Elijah lay down to die, but somehow he found the strength to talk to God, anyway. He said, "God, this is useless. It's pointless. This taking a stand for you has gotten me nowhere. All I ha ...

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