Have you ever gone to work only to find out that people have been laid off, or your company is being “reorganized”. Maybe you’ve experienced an unexpected death in the family, or a diagnosis of cancer after a routine visit to the Dr. This type of stress takes us by surprise and sometimes leaves us feeling out of control. Our bodies and minds tell us to instantly respond to the stress. Our emotions run high, and our reactions usually differ from a normal stress response. This is because we were “surprised” and not prepared for the stress coming our way. It’s just like a fly ball hit into the stands when you weren’t looking out for it; Your head is turned and then ……bam!!
In 1 Kings 19, we find the story of Elijah and Queen Jezebel. Elijah is surprised when Queen Jezebel threatens to kill him after he defeated the prophets of Baal. This terrible surprise news scared him. Instead of going to the Lord, who initially helped him defeat the prophets, Elijah’s stress response was to run and hide in a different city. When he got there, he was so afraid that he actually prayed death to himself to avoid being murdered by this wicked Queen. His reaction is not contrary to what many of us have done when we’ve felt our world falling down on us. In a surprise situation of great magnitude, it’s easy to give in to fear, anger, despair, and sadness and look only at the situation instead of immediately looking to God who is above all situations.
In verse 5, we see that God sent an angel to Elijah. The angel provided, food, drink and much needed sleep. In other words, God comforted Elijah in his time of need. He settled his mind and gave him nourishment so that He could receive instruction. This is what God will do for all of us during our times of “surprise stress”. He understands us because he created us. He knows our fears before we even have to face them and will provide rest, nourishment, and comfort in our time of need.
As our story continues, Elijah finds himself on a long journey where he ends up on the “mountain of God”. While there, God sent a great wind, earthquake, and a fire for Elijah to experience and then it says that God spoke to him in a still small voice. We also experience circumstantial winds, earthquakes and fire that is brought down upon us by almighty God to get us ready to hear His still, small voice that wants to speak to our heart.
I’m sure that after the wind and earthquake, Elijah saw how insignificant a threat of death really was in the face of Jehovah God who could open up the earth and swallow him in a minute! And then… when he felt the heat of fire on his face, He knew who really held the power of heaven and hell in His hands. It surely wasn’t Jezebel. He realized that he had no need to fear her. His only healthy fear now was the fear of the Lord Jesus Christ and Elijah’s trust for protection was now completely in the one who created the wind, earth, and fire!
It’s interesting that after those elements of nature, he was istructed to go back the way he came. Ouch!!! Now he had to put his faith into action and face his fear which exposed him to danger again.
1 Kings 19:15 says, “Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram.16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi[b] to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet.17 Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! 18 Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”
When Elijah obeyed, the victory soon thereafter went to the Lord. Jezebel was eventually destroyed. Elijah went on to live, see much success, mentored his successor, and was rewarded ultimately by the greatest surprise of his life…..not having to face death. Instead, he was taken to heaven by God riding “first class” in a chariot of fire!
WOW!!!! God is truly amazing and that, my friends, should be no surprise to us at all!!