He wanted to die.
Despite great success and God working dramatically in his life, he'd had enough. He stood at the breaking point, worn out, scared and alone. The weight of fear was crushing him. Life seemed overwhelming.
He prayed for death to come.
We get discouraged when prayers go unanswered, and yet a prayer for death is best left unanswered. Maybe you've been there. Shame, embarrassment, fear and life in general have a way of pushing us to the breaking point if we let them. Life stinks at times.
Fortunately for Elijah, God didn't answer his request in the way he wanted him to. God heard Elijah's cry for help. Asking God to take your life screams for help. God hears and responds.
Was he angry at Elijah for asking for such a thing as death? Incensed maybe? Disappointed at how ungrateful Elijah was — after having just experienced so much success by God's mercy? Would God shake his head in pity at Elijah for such a lack of faith?
How did God respond?
"Suddenly," it says in 1 Kings 19, "an angel touched him [Elijah] and said to him, 'Get up and eat.' He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water" (5-6).
God's grace showed up in Elijah's valley of the shadow of death with bread and water. No questions. No "suck it up Elijah!" from God. Only an invitation to get up and eat to gain strength for the journey ahead.
Elijah was not done with his journey on earth. God had much more in store for his life. After this simple meal, Elijah got up and moved forward.
Maybe today you find yourself at the end of your rope. Maybe a friend stands at the brink unable to move forward. The good news is God knows and graciously intercedes. Nothing can separate you from God's love. Nothing. Depression won't. A deep cry of the heart for life to end won't. Nothing. Nada. Nichts. Go ahead and cry out, pour out your lament before God. You cannot be taken out of God's hand.
If your friend is struggling, maybe God's grace shows up in your presence. If you are struggling today, look around and discover God's graciousness to you even now.
God loves you. God's grace shows up in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. It shows up in his broken body and shed blood of Christ — which comes to us in the Lord's Supper. It shows up in the word read and spoken daily in the Scripture. God continues to come to us and draw us graciously to himself for life.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers