Faith can collapse in some situations. This is human nature and we must recognise how to recover from this. We have an outstanding example in our Kings reading today. Elijah had been the spiritual hero of the LORD on Mount Carmel in front of Ahab. God responded to his faith and “the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering” (18:38) despite it being heavily doused with water. Then 450 Baal worshippers were killed.
After this the 3½ year drought comes to a dramatic end as a result of Elijah’s prayers (James 5:17,18). 1 Kings 19 tells us that “Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done” and she sent a messenger to him “saying, ‘so may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them [the prophets of Baal] by this time tomorrow.’ Then he was afraid and he arose and ran …” (verses 2,3).
Elijah’s faith in God collapsed, but the LORD uses this to teach him a lesson and rebuild his service. It reminds us of some of David’s Psalms: Psalm 22 begins with the heartbroken lament that the LORD had forsaken him, which is a prophecy of what Christ was to utter on the cross. But look at how the following text shows that David regains his vision and confidence in the divinely ordained future.
Elijah flees, but is miraculously fed, and has strength for a 40 day journey (verse 8 – parallel with Jesus in the wilderness?) to come “to Horeb, the mount of God” where Moses received the 10 commandments. The Lord asks “What are you doing here Elijah?” (verse 9). He laments, “I, even I only, am left and they seek my life …” (verse 10).
There is a great demonstration of the power of nature; wind, earthquake and fire and then a ‘still small voice’ … “the sound of a low whisper” (verse 12) and the LORD reassures him, he is not the only faithful one left – and Elijah returns to complete the work of the Lord.
And us? May we so read God’s word that we can complete the work He has given to us to accomplish, not neglecting the particular talents we should use. The time available may be short.