God was with Elijah as the prophet faced his fears and negative thoughts. He'll be there for you, too.
"Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love." -Brené Brown
Some days, depression and anxiety can leave you feeling like the whole world is against you. And you're not the only one. That's how the prophet Elijah felt after his day on Mt. Carmel. God had won a tremendous victory against the prophets of Baal, but Elijah still felt alone. And even though his God was victorious, the lonely prophet ran away to hide from Queen Jezebel. The queen had threatened to kill Elijah, but when God had just sent a firestorm that devoured a solid-rock altar, logic says Jezebel wouldn't have been able to do the prophet much harm. Feelings aren't always logical, though. And when negative thoughts take over, sometimes we can't see the positive side. So Elijah, who had the God of everything on his side, ran away and hid.
God begins by asking Elijah a simple question: "What are you doing here Elijah?" -1 Kings 19:9, NIV
Elijah wasn't quite the picture of a fearless warrior prophet when he curled up under a bush, but God didn't get angry at his tired prophet. He had patience. We can learn a lot from what happened next. First, God cared for Elijah's physical needs. The prophet needed rest and food before he could address his feelings. And then, once Elijah was rested and ready, the Spirit led him to Horeb, the holy mountain, where God helped the prophet face the negative thoughts that had started him on the run.
God began by asking his prophet a simple question. "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9, NIV). And then, God listened as Elijah answered in a torrent of frustrated words.
"He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too'" (1 Kings 19:10, NIV).
Elijah wasn't in any danger. He had God to protect him from the evil queen. But loneliness and loss were weighing the prophet down. He felt like the last person alive who worshiped the Lord. Elijah felt completely and desperately alone.
After God listened to Elijah's feelings, he gently, so gently, guided his tired prophet to confront the holes in his argument. First, God showed Elijah an incredible display of his power with a surprisingly soft ending: "The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by'" 1 Kings 19:11 (NIV).
As Elijah watched, God sent a wind that shattered rocks and tore mountains into pieces. Next came an earthquake, that shook the desert landscape. "After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave" (1 Kings 19:12-13). In this beautiful, earthshaking moment, Elijah caught a glimpse of the Lord's unstoppable power. Just in case the firestorm was fading from the prophet's memory, he witnessed, once again, that God was strong enough to protect him. But God didn't bring his power down on Elijah. Instead, God showed kindness and understanding. He spoke softly, and Elijah knew the sound of his voice.
Then, once the prophet was listening, God asked the same question again: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah gave the same answer as before, but this time, he had thought about it. He'd had time to understand what he was saying. And that's when God finally answered: "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet" (1 Kings 19:15-16).
Elijah had never been alone. God had been with him all along. And here, God helped him to see that. By directing Elijah to anoint new kings over Israel and other places, and by promising justice, God addressed his prophet's fears. And by sending Elijah to choose a future successor, God gave the prophet a friend who would stay alongside him for the rest of Elijah's life on earth.
Elijah's fears may have been irrational. God had been speaking through him for years. Still, God didn't discount the worries of his child. Instead, he comforted his prophet, promised justice was coming, and sent a friend so Elijah wouldn't be alone anymore. Then, finally, once Elijah was fully listening, God helped the prophet see the lies he believed. Elijah thought he was alone, but God told him "I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18, NIV).
Elijah wasn't the last worshiper of God. There were thousands like him all around his country. The prophet had it wrong, but God wasn't angry with him.
You may not have had the same experiences as Elijah, but we all have fears and negative thoughts to face. The great news is that, whatever your worries may be, God will be gentle with you, just as he was with Elijah. And like Elijah, when you are ready to look your darkest thoughts in the face, you may find that they aren't as terrifying as they seem. After all, you have a fire-breathing, mountain splitting God of power on your side. And when he talks to you, he whispers.
This website is full of techniques for learning to think differently, spot negative thoughts, and train your brain to look past the lies that depression and anxiety tell. Try them. Find what works for you. And get one step closer to the life of happiness God wants you to have. You are valued, you are loved, and you are never alone.