Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Experience under a tree and in a cave

One of the lectionary readings last Sunday was from 1 Kings.  It's a passage I've always liked.  Elijah is running away, worn out, dejected, and exhausted.  Angels come and minister to him, and then God appears to him in silence. 

One pastor I know posted this one Facebook:
In 1 Kgs. 19:1-15 Elijah falls into a crippling depression and loses all will to live. Depression and suicidal thoughts are rarely discussed openly in church, especially from the pulpit; tomorrow is different.  No matter where you are spiritually and emotionally, I pray this sermon provides both insight and hope.  (Rev. Darick Biondi)
I realized as I read his post and as I listened to the scripture as it was read in worship, that I always focus on the care given to Elijah.  I focus on God's visit, and not on Elijah.

But focus on Elijah for a moment.  Verse 4b says, "He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my  ancestors.”

Darick is right.  Now focus on the response.  The angels don't tell him to "buck up" and stop feeling sad.  The angels minister to him where he is, and provide what he needs.  Not platitudes.  Just acceptance and caring.

And then he goes to the cave.  God doesn't judge Elijah, or tell him that "everything happens for a reason." God doesn't diminish what he is feeling or experiencing.  What God does do is bring Elijah into God's presence in silence, and then sends Elijah out in ministry again.  Elijah is still worthy.

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