But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. 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
How often have I fallen victim to defeat even after great victories won in the Lord! Only a breath beyond the defeat of the priests of Baal by fire and sword, Elijah fell into a deep, suicidal depression. Why? Because the defeated enemy cried out in desperation for vengeance to kill him! Only days before, Elijah had mocked and defied the prophets of Baal because of his confidence in the Lord! And now he was in the desert lying under a tree asking God to take his life.
Story of my life.
I get so high off of the victories of God. I love to see Him work in power through me to bring someone to repentance or salvation or victory. And then, as sure as the Lord had victory, I look at myself and my circumstances and I’m ruined. Like Elijah, when I look at myself honestly, I see how small and powerless I am, and I’m ready to give up. I’m ready to forget the Lord’s power and sulk in my own weakness.
9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:9-10
Of course God meets Elijah in his pain and asks him the age old question, “why are you here?” In other words, “Why are you hiding, Elijah. Why don’t you trust me today?” And Elijah, in his pain and discouragement, proclaims to God that he’s all that’s left of His prophets and there is just no way he can stand up against all that evil all by himself. And God teaches him something.
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.12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
1 Kings 19:11-12
You know, I’ve always been taught that God speaks to us in a still, small voice, because of this passage of scripture. But recently I realized something fresh, something deeper about that still small voice lesson that God gave to Elijah. And it isn’t that God talks in whispers. It’s that God can and will use one small voice to proclaim his victory over His enemies. Elijah was the still small voice that the Lord of Hosts proclaimed. Elijah, God’s chosen prophet, God’s chosen voice, weak and defeated and broken and depressed and suicidal. One still, small voice that by God’s power had defeated all the priests of Baal with confidence in the Power of God, and God alone. And God came with fire. Hiding in a cave, alone with the Lord, Elijah found comfort. God comforted him. He showed him the power of his small, little voice. Then, once God had reminded Elijah of who he was in the Lord, he gave him a taste of what was to come.
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?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:13-18
Elijah felt alone and afraid. What could one voice do against Jezebel and Ahab? What could one voice say that could make any difference? A voice empowered by the Lord is enough. Still and small though it may be, it’s power source is the Spirit of God, and it is strong. Elijah just needed a reminder. He needed to know that more victory would come, and that he wasn’t alone.
So, when I feel defeated and lost, broken from looking at myself instead of at God, God will remind me of this story. And he says to me, “You are a still small voice, my love, but I am a roaring lion. And I am in you.” I can be confident in my still, small voice, because I belong to and serve the Risen Lord. In the hands of the Living God, one voice can always be enough.