In our First reading from the first book of Kings we find that Elijah was an utterly discouraged man. He sat down under the shade of a tree, took stock of his life and concluded that it was a wasted effort. He even prayed to die. But apparently, he wasn’t too serious about that. If he had really wanted to die, Queen Jezebel would have been more that happy to accommodate him. In fact, she vowed to do that very thing.
The story begins in the previous chapter. Elijah had his famous victory over the prophets of Baal. In a head to head contest with the prophets he proved the superiority of Israel’s God. Then he personally killed all four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, a resounding victory. Elijah thought that this would end his Nation turning to false gods. Sadly, the struggle was not over, he had miscalculated the resolve of Queen Jezebel and she issued a death sentence on him and he had to flee. It was a hard blow for him and he was totally discouraged.
In this, Elijah is very like us who when we are trying to be faithful to God sometimes find ourselves disappointed. We expect one thing and get another. We struggle to do the right thing and God rewards us by leaving us vulnerable to some Jezebel. Where is the justice in that? Elijah felt the same way, he was discouraged and all of us find ourselves in that same circumstance. It is a common malady of the human family.
We are not alone with this feeling, even Jesus anguished when he proclaimed “ O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long must I endure you?. When we are discouraged we are in good company, Elijah and even Jesus. As the angel came to Elijah we also can expect some help as many angels come with human faces. Elijah’s angel instructed him to get up and get on with his life, that is our instruction also.