1 Kings 19:1-18 happens to be one of my favorite passages in scriptures. I love the depths of rawness, vulnerability, and honesty portrayed here. Elijah, the prophet was fleeing from Queen Jezebel, who threatened to kill him.
Elijah journeys deep into the wilderness. There, he gives up:
…And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 1 Kings 19:4
I understand this from a personal, empathetic point of view. Many times, I have been strongly compelled to surrender. I have been struggling with depression for a long time. I lost the meaning of life and asked God so many times, to take away my life too… I asked and prayed [in vain] not to wake up the next morning. So when Elijah said that… it really hit home for me. I can understand the weight of his pain [even though I don’t have an evil Queen chasing after my blood and life].
I really love what happens next:
And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 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.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
1 Kings 19:5-8
God did not judge or condemn Elijah for wanting to take out his life. He didn’t say, “How dare you want to take out your life? Do you know how hard I worked to get you here? You want just throw your life away just like that?”
No. No judgement. Instead, God allowed him to rest under the broom tree and gave him food to eat and water to drink… in the middle of the wilderness. I find a lot of compassion and gentleness there.
When God finally speaks to Elijah, He didn’t need a grand entrance to make a point. God didn’t need to speak in the winds, the earthquakes, or fire. All God spoke with, was a gentle whisper. He spoke to Elijah as he hid in the cave.
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13
I don’t know where you are in life. I know oftentimes, it’s hard to believe it, but God sees and knows our pain. Just as the gospel shows, Jesus walked through life and death for us (that will be for another post someday). Elijah was extremely weak and fragile in that moment… God let him rest, eat, and drink water. When the time came, God whispered to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
God will go extra miles to meet us where we are, because He loves us that much.
I know that depression and wanting to end life are never light discussions. I don’t even have all the answers myself. Every now and then, I still have my struggles and doubts. Tonight, I just wanted to reflect on this famous passage. I haven’t perfectly come to the place where I can say, “I’ve made it, everyone. I’ve 100% overcome depression. I’m living life completely trouble free and I found the answers, secret formula, and cure for it. So here’s how to defeat it…”
I wish I could tell you. I don’t know where you stand right now, whether you are struggling to get through life or if you are actually doing really great. I just want you to know that you are loved and that you are not alone. Especially, if you are suffering from depression, please don’t let yourself go through it alone. You have been strong for a long time. I know that it is scary to open up and reach out, but I implore you to find some trustworthy friends and loved ones who you can confide in. It’s even scarier to fight your demons in darkness all by yourself. Please don’t do that to yourself. You can also reach me via the contact page (on top of this webpage).
You are loved. You are valued. You are worth more than gold. You are God’s creation. You were created for a purpose and meaning. Every breath you breathe and every pump of blood that flows through your heart is a gift. Say this to yourself. Say it out loud, again and again. Declare it. Believe it. Stand firm on it.