by Mike Durbin
PLYMOUTH, MI – “I have had enough!” These are the words of the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19 as he runs from Jezebel after the spiritual showdown on Mt. Carmel between the prophets of Baal and God. It was a moment that left the people on their faces confessing, “The Lord, He is God. The Lord, He is God.” It was also the beginning of a moment that led to a downward spiral in Elijah’s life.
Elijah experiences a difficult season in his life. He reaches a point where he is emotionally distressed, relationally disconnected, physically drained, and intellectually deceived. He goes from faithful prophet of the living God in one chapter to a man who’s barely a silhouette of who he once was in the next. He’s depleted and on a path leading to despair. He gets to the point where he actually asks God to take his life.
False expectations and struggles can leave us feeling overwhelmed, alone, exhausted, confused, and depressed. The last two years have stressed each of us to one degree or another. COVID-19, social unrest, racial injustice, political dysfunction, supply shortages and rising inflation are just some of the pressures adding to life’s stress.
At the lowest point in his life, Elijah experiences a life altering encounter with God that changes everything. God graciously speaks to him in a still, small voice - a barely audible, breathless whisper. It’s a quiet moment with God that changes the conversation and gives Elijah hope for the future.
It goes from Elijah saying, “take my life,” to him returning the way he came with God given assignments that transform his life and ministry. God continues Elijah’s story by giving him a wider glimpse of redemption’s story. God helps him see beyond himself to a successor who will accelerate Kingdom movement, to a school of the prophets, to the anointing of kings and ultimately to that moment in the fullness of time when the Gospel will be birthed in the person of Jesus. An encounter with God changes everything and gives him hope for the future.
Elijah is not one of the traditional characters of Christmas, but his story has much to teach as we enter what many call the “most wonderful time of the year.” Christmas is filled with decorations, dinners, music, and gifts. It’s a wonderful time, but not for everyone. Some are entering this season with deep losses and disappointments. Christmas will be hard.
While the people of God were celebrating renewed faith after the events on Mt. Caramel, Elijah was in a dark place. Perhaps that describes you this holiday season. It’s hard, but it will not last forever.
Elijah was only one encounter with God away from new hope. Elijah was only ONE encounter with GOD away from new HOPE. God was there for Elijah and He’s there for you. A breathless whisper from God in a dark, lonely place started Elijah’s renewal. It gave him the strength to put one foot in front of the other and start walking away from the darkness.
Christmas is the ultimate celebration that God is with us - that He is Immanuel. The cries of baby Jesus that first Christmas are a declaration that God is for us. That He is for you. Christmas is not about what is happening around us. It’s about what is happening in us. Christ in you. The Hope of Glory.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.