Have you ever experienced sadness and fear right on the heels of a great victory? Maybe you finished a big project at work; there was excitement while you were working on it and a sense of accomplishment when you were done. But afterward—maybe an hour, a day, or a week—things seemed to crash. The project you were pumped to finish met more criticism than you expected. Now you’re exhausted and back to the drawing board.
This pattern happens more often than we’d like to admit. You return from a great vacation, and then the reality of life makes it feel like a distant dream. You beat your time on a long bike ride, then a nagging injury makes it feel like your last. Maybe you share your faith with a friend whose response is positive at first, but then, his faith seems to wane. In those moments, we’re deflated and afraid. We grieve the losses and fear that we’ll never get back to the heights of joy.
If you’ve been there, you’re not alone. The prophet Elijah experienced one of the most incredible spiritual victories recorded in Scripture. He challenged 850 false prophets to a great contest, and God showed up for him, shaming the raving idol-worshipers by sending fire from heaven to set Elijah’s altar ablaze (1Kings 18:38–39).
But when wicked Jezebel heard about this victory, she was angry. She threatened Elijah’s life, and he fled (1Kings 19:1–3). Alone in the wilderness, Elijah sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough!” he said to the Lord (v.4). This man who had prayed and seen God answer with fire and rain was now at his end.
How do we respond when we’re under the broom tree? What do we do when we feel deserted and alone (vv.9–10)? How do we respond when the grief and fear come?
At that moment, the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying “Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD’s presence” (v.11). With His quiet voice, God assured the fearful prophet that He is there even when the excitement dies down and disappointment sets in. The Lord didn’t come to Elijah in a great and mighty wind or an earthquake or fire (vv.11–13). He came to the prophet in a whisper. Then, Elijah met God, and God gave the prophet his next mission (vv.15–16).
Like Elijah, God meets us in our melancholy and anxiety. He quietly calls us to receive His assurance. God is here in our disappointment, just as He was in our victory. And God still has a purpose for us, so we can say, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).