Sometimes, I can really identify with the prophet Elijah. After he had defeated the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), a success which surely had him at the top of the world, he was then confronted by Queen Jezebel, who threatened to kill him.
What does our prophet do?
He runs for his life. I am pretty sure this is what I would do.
Discouraged and feeling like a failure, he prays to God to let him die. Instead, an angel comes to him and gives him water and cake and tells him to eat. Depressed Elijah goes right back to sleep. The angel again tells him to eat. Finally, he gets up. Sustained by the angelic food, he travels to the wilderness.
He journeys into the wilderness to hear the voice of God.
God was so attentive to Elijah’s needs, that He sent an angel with cake! Sometimes, we can really use some dark chocolate decadence. But today (and every day) God gives us heavenly bread for the strength we each need to continue our own journey. We don’t have to wait for an angel to bring us some hearth cake; we have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ himself each day in the Eucharist. But we are like Elijah and don’t always immediately rise up and begin the journey.
Sometimes (OK, a lot of times) we go back to sleep.
We hit the snooze alarm instead of waking early to say morning prayers, we fail to speak the truth, we shy away from helping out when our parish is in need of volunteers, or we give in to petty jealousies and gossip. We fail many times even after resolving to remain strong in the Lord.
But as Father Corapi once said, a soldier is not condemned for falling after being shot; he is only condemned for deserting. So long as we get up again, we are not deserters; we are wounded soldiers.
Even Elijah the prophet went back to sleep after the angel of the Lord gave him food and drink.
Sometimes, we have to be that discouraged, hit rock bottom, to be open to hearing the whisper of God’s voice in our hearts.
And, what did God say to Elijah in the desert? “What are you doing here?” Despite Elijah’s lack of courage, his complaints, and his despair, God sends him right back to work.
When we are depressed or discouraged or feel like a failure due to a job loss, an illness, or a difficult family situation, remember that the prophet Elijah was eventually taken to heaven in a flaming chariot (2 Kings 2:11)—but not before he had been so down in the dumps that he had wanted to die.