Elijah’s Loneliness

Read: 1 Kings 19:1-18

I, even I only, am left. (v. 10)

It’s a safe bet that Elijah wasn’t just feeling alone but was feeling downright lonely when he hid for a night in a cave on Mount Horeb. He had defeated the prophets of Baal in one of the most memorable showdowns ever, and instead of being celebrated, he was being hunted by Jezebel. He left his servant behind, went into the wilderness alone, and prayed he would die. He then journeyed 40 days and 40 nights and sat in a deep funk wondering what difference any of his work made. He was depressed and dejected.

God’s question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” echoes God’s question, “Where are you?” to Adam in Genesis 3. These are great questions when you are feeling lonely. Where are you? What are you doing? Have you cut yourself off from the people who love you and the God who loves you?

God reveals himself to Elijah—not in a great wind or earthquake or fire—but in a still, small voice (v. 12). God had been there all along, undetected by Elijah. Furthermore, God revealed that Elijah was never alone but one of a company of 7,000 who hadn’t bowed to Baal. Loneliness doesn’t come from being alone; loneliness comes from thinking you are alone—thinking you are the only one who feels a certain way when in fact thousands of others feel the same way. Elijah was never alone. Are you like Elijah? Perhaps it is time to reassess how alone you really are.

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to hear your voice when we are lonely.

About the Author

Jeffrey Munroe is the Executive Vice President of Western Theological Seminary and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

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