When You've Had Enough
A troubled traveler finds finally finds rest.
Elijah’s emotional, spiritual, and physical condition is at its peak. By the power of the Lord he had just outrun the mighty horses of King Ahab’s chariot and returned from Mt. Carmel 30 miles away. At Mt. Carmel the Lord had answered his prayer and consumed his saturated sacrifice with fire from heaven. The prophets of Baal watched and waited for Baal to answer their pleas for help. He didn’t. And then they were put to death by the sword.
Elijah was ready for a religious renewal in all of Israel! The fire from heaven had to convince wicked King Ahab to repent and turn to the Lord, and all Israel with him. The result of the Mt. Carmel incident, however, wasn’t a religious renewal for Israel, but a death threat for Elijah from evil queen Jezebel, who was not too happy her prophets were dead. “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them” (1 Kings 19:2).
With the fear of death gripping his soul, Elijah turned and ran, and ran, and ran for 80 miles as far away as he could run from Jezebel to the city of Beersheba. As his strides became less frantic, and his legs became weary, and he started wondering why this had happened he could only be disappointed and discouraged. How could the fire from heaven and the defeated prophets of Baal turn out to be such a failure? Why would God to this? The mighty man of God who had opened the heavens to pour out rain and spit out fire, who had raised the dead and been miraculously fed by ravens was running scared, angry at God for an apparent worthless performance on Mt. Carmel, physically worn out to the point of exhaustion and was really holding no hope for his future usefulness in the kingdom of God. He collapsed and complained, “I have had enough, Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Elijah likened himself to previous prophets like Moses and Samuel, claiming that they also were failures because the people of Israel continued in their sins of idolatry and wicked living.
In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown is receiving advice and counsel from Lucy and disagrees saying, “No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from.” Unfortunately, Charlie Brown is wrong. While we can run away from many problems in the world – we can make ourselves happy when we’re sad, refreshed when we’re worn out, or confident when we’re afraid – we can’t run away from the problem of our own sinfulness. It’s too much for us to handle. But it’s not too much for our Lord God.
God placed our sins on Jesus – every one of them – and he didn’t run away. Though it appeared as if our sins were too much for Jesus when he was tortured and crucified and then died, the opposite was true. Jesus was too much for the power of sin. Jesus victoriously rose to life, conquering all our sins, leaving them punished forever in hell. That is what we need to be forgiven. Jesus’ payment for us was enough, and Jesus’ powerful resurrection was too much for sin to have a hold on us.
Encouraged by love and concern of his God, Elijah eats a miraculous meal supplied by God. “Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:8). With renewed strength given him by God, Elijah journeys to the mountain where Moses once stood face to face with God and spoke with him. For forty days and nights he travels in the wilderness as Jesus did at the beginning of his ministry. No coincidence that these three great prophets stood and spoke together in glory at the transfiguration of Jesus.
What is too much for us is never too much for our God.
PRAYER: At times, God, I’ve had enough and I just want to quit, or run away, or hide. I can’t take it any more … if I’m the only one taking it. But you are with me. Your forgiveness unshackles my guilt. Your loving wisdom guides me beyond my own understanding. Lift me up when I am down, and point me to the power and love of the cross. Lead me on to see beyond my own, sinful self and rely on you for all I need. Amen.