The prophet Elijah was as bold and powerful as a lion. He was known to be anything but timid. So why mention Elijah, a man who challenged evil kings and false gods, when discussing timidity?
1 Kings 17-19 recounts the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, a couple who seduced the Israelites with idol worship. People worshipped the idols of Asherah and Baal in hopes that dew and rain would multiply their crops. Queen Jezebel ordered the deaths of all prophets of the true and living God. She wanted none of them alive and tried to make the Israelites forget their God forever.
God sent the prophet Elijah to tell King Ahab that no rain would fall on the land for years because of their idolatry. Because this word was dangerous and unpopular, and because Jezebel ordered all prophets of God to be killed, God sent Elijah out of town to retreat to safety and be nourished. On his retreat, Elijah experienced many miracles, such as a raven feeding him, and being able to multiple the resources of a poor widow so she could have enough food for her household. When the widow’s son became sick and died, Elijah brought the boy back to life. After all of these miracles, Elijah returned to King Ahab to participate in a showdown, that is, to prove that God was real and Baal was not.
At the showdown, the people offered sacrifices to Baal and worshipped him, but there was no response. Elijah made fun of them by asking if Baal was sleeping or had gone on vacation. Then, Elijah called on the true God, who responded with fire and burned not only the offering, but the wood, stones, and dust too. Immediately the people fell on their faces and worshipped the true and living God. Rain finally fell to water their crops, but this made King Ahab and Queen Jezebel angry, and they sought to kill Elijah. Elijah, now intimidated by Ahab and Jezebel, fled for his life.
Elijah ran so long on an empty stomach and with nothing to drink, that he became exhausted and prayed for death until he fell asleep. How could Elijah be afraid of anything when he witnessed God perform powerful miracles through him? Where did Elijah’s boldness and faith go?
Ministry can be strenuous. The work God calls us to do can lead even the strongest to situations of fear and timidity. This timidity may show up in settings where you don’t feel free to be yourself or act as you normally do. That is why we must live a life that sustains our callings. It makes no sense to lead a life of doing God’s work, only to have it cut short because of poor health and a lean soul. Soul care looks like rest; exercise; healthy eating; reading God’s word; praying and fasting; wise counsel; and community. Let us not allow health issues to stand in the way of fulfilling God’s plan for our lives.
Dear Lord, we worship You alone and honor You as the one true God of our lives. We thank You for truth. We thank you for practicality. We thank You that as mighty and as powerful as we are in You, we must live a life that sustains our callings. Give us wisdom to adapt to healthy lifestyle changes that will add to the number of our days. We know that our chief concern is to care for our spiritual being, which is eternal. However, in these days, our physical beings house the spiritual, and so help us to commit to taking care of our bodies to live long enough to bring Your purpose here on earth. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
1 Kings 17-19