1 Kings 18-19

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” ­– 1 Kings 19:9 NLT

Have you ever had one of those moments in life where you feel all alone, under attack, or is nothing is going the way you expected? Oftentimes those kinds of days seem to follow close in the heels of times of victory. You can have experienced a season of spiritual success where God’s presence and power was so readily apparent in your life, but then something negative happens and the next thing you know you’re going through a period of unexplainable sadness, even depression. You find yourself having a pity party. That’s exactly what we find happening to Elijah, the prophet of God.

These two chapters remind me of a story we used to read when our kids were young. It was the book, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. It is the story of a young boy who finds nothing in his life going right. Everything is always going wrong. “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” That is the kind of day Elijah was having. And it all came about right after he experienced an incredible victory over Ahab with the help of the Lord. Elijah had returned to Israel and challenged Ahab and his prophets of Baal to a showdown. It was going to be a dual to the finish between their god Baal, and his God, Yahweh. And it had ended in the defeat of Baal and the execution of the so-called prophets of Baal. God had miraculously answered Elijah’s prayer and provided victory. Elijah then prayed for rain to end the drought, and God answered. But when Elijah receives news that Jezebel, the wife of Ahab has threatened to kill him, he panics and runs. He takes off. He becomes afraid and literally runs for his life. He even asks God to kill him. But instead, God miraculously provides for him again, commanding His angels to feed him. Elijah then travels forty days into the wilderness and winds up hiding in a cave. During his time there, God visits him two different times and asks Elijah the simple question, “What are you doing here Elijah?” Elijah responds with a sad tale of all that he has done for God and how he now stands all alone as God’s representative in the land. He has a pity party. He wallows in self pity. He forgets all that he has just seen God do – through him!

In spite of Elijah’s fear, God visits him at Horeb and reveals Himself to him. God gives him instructions. He lets Elijah know that his job is not done yet. He is not alone. Elijah was disillusioned and disappointed that things had not worked out the way he had expected. Even though he had won the victory against the prophets of Baal and had personally killed 450 of them, Jezebel was still alive and shrines to Baal still existed all over the land. He felt like a failure and seemed to be disappointed that God had not finished the job. But God was not through. He had more that He was going to do – and He had others who were going to play a role in His divine plan for Israel. Elijah’s next job was to anoint those whom God was going to use in the next phase of His clean-up project for Israel. The pity party was over. It was time for Elijah to get his focus off of him and back on God. God was far from done. Elijah was a bit player in God’s grand redemptive story. He was one character in one act in a much larger play. He had had a bad day. But God was not through. This story was not about Elijah. It was about God and it always has been.

Father, forgive me for allowing my terrible horrible no good very bad days to distract me from what You are doing in and around me. I can so easily fall into having a pity party and think about me and me only. This is all about You and Your plan. I am not the star of this show – You are. This is not about my plan, but Yours. Give me a bigger perspective. Help me to recall and remember what You have done and are doing in, through, and around me. You are at work. You are not done. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men