Hope is a funny thing. God teaches us that “hope deferred makes the heart grow sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Without hope, the heart loses life, and the mind goes a little crazy. We can lose hope for many reasons. Bad relationships. Broken friendships. Fear. Rejection. Illness. Religious confusion. Death. Low self esteem. Social anxiety. A fallen role model. Divorced parents. Workaholic father. Rape. The list goes on.
1 Kings 18 and 19 share with us the story of how the prophet Elijah lost his hope. We read of Elijah so valiantly defeating 450 prophets of Baal, a false god. We see him perform a miracle, run to the top of a mountain, and even receive “special strength” from the Lord that allowed him to outrun a chariot. This guy was, as we often say, on top of the world. Life was good.
Until the next chapter. Here we find the same man lying under a tree requesting to die. What happened in this man’s mind between that moment of “on top of the world and the moment he was ready to quit life?
Three things led him from being on top of his emotions and decisions, to the point of wanting to die:
- He was faced with a difficult challenge (The evil Queen Jezebel had threatened his life for what he had done to her prophets.)
- He isolated himself from others in order to escape that challenge. (He fled to the wilderness alone.)
- He allowed himself to reach a point of total exhaustion.
We’ve all faced circumstances like this that have made us lose hope. At this point, Elijah cried out to God, “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (vs 4). God responds by sending him an angel who instructed Elijah to rest and eat. Then God told him to get up and face his challenge. After all of this, God introduced Elijah to roughly 7,000 peopleu2028as a support group, including an apprentice, Elisha.
Have you ever found yourself experiencing a similar emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual roller coaster as Elijah’s? One week, or even one year, life just falls into place and everything feels good. Then, “Bam!” There you are lying in your dark room all alone wondering how you’ll find enough hope to make it to the next day. But just as God restored Elijah’s hope, He can do the same for you, but only if you lift your voice to Him as Elijah did.
When you’re lying all alone on your bed, or sitting quietly in your car, or standing in a crowd feeling completely alone, and a strong urge to quit life overtakes your mind, follow Elijah’s hope restoration process: rest and fuel your body, face the challenge, and seek help and encouragement from others to do so.
Any time you struggle with the desire to end your life, take God up on His offer given in 1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace…will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Realize you are not alone in this struggle, and that hope can be restored. Purpose can be found. You can be healed.