Updated: Oct 25, 2018
Ministry can be such a painstaking responsibility that at times you just want to quit—throw in the towel and scream, “Forget it. It’s not worth it.”
As a leader, you may have thrown yourself a pity party and invited your circle of ‘fed-up’ friends. But did God show up? I think not! I have learned God does not come to pity parties.
Perhaps you have declared as God did with the children of Israel, “These are a stiff-necked and rebellious people!”
Now, to reach the point to pray to die is a somewhat extreme, especially after having such a victory as Elijah did on Mt. Carmel. Let’s consider Elijah’s emotional pitfall and glean from him as leaders when we are emotionally and spiritually drained due to spiritual assaults.
First, we must understand that demonic opposition is the norm for the children of God. Spiritual warfare against servant leaders with an apostolic/prophetic mantle, especially after a victorious encounter and mountaintop experience against the kingdom of darkness is inevitable.
Secondly, our attitude during and after spiritual conquests should not be one of arrogance (1 Kings 18:22, 27, 36). Elijah’s arrogant display and mocking actually backfired on him although God’s power was manifested through him as He proved Himself to be the only true and living God. There must be a difference between being confident in your anointing and showing off in your flesh. Show-off and entertainment are inappropriate behaviors when ministering in the demonstration of God’s supernatural power of the Holy Ghost (Spirit).
Elijah challenged Ahab to summons the prophets of Baal (450 prophets under the leadership of his wife, Jezebel) to Mt. Carmel. He set forth the challenge: “Let the Baal prophets bring up two oxen; let them pick one, butcher it, and lay it out on an altar on firewood—but don’t ignite it. I’ll take the other ox, cut it up, and lay it on the wood. But neither will I light the fire. Then you pray to your gods and I’ll pray to God. The god who answers with fire will prove to be, in fact, God.”
All the people agreed: “A good plan—do it!”
Of course, the gods of the Baals do NOT respond despite the desperate prayers and bloody shenanigans of the prophets to which Elijah jeered and mocked. Needless to say the only true and living God answered by fire as the prophet Elijah prayed. “O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance.”
Immediately, the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench. All the people saw it happen and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, “God is the true God! God is the true God! (I Kings 18:38-39). Elijah killed all the prophets.
Ahab reported to his controlling wife, Jezebel, the defeat. She was furious, to say the least! She sent a death threat to Elijah, and he ran for his life in fear. I pondered how could this “powerful” prophet of God be so overcome with fear that he would allow fear of a death threat. Did he forget what happened on Mt. Carmel?
You can always expect opposition and retaliation when you follow God’s instructions and carry out His assignment. However, the trust you have in God to empower you to fulfill the assignment must be an even greater trust in Him to sustain and protect you after the spiritual victory of the enemy. You cannot afford to ‘wimp’ out!
Elijah’s arrogance and over self-confidence in his power caused him to lose focus on his frailty and fallibility. Basically, God allowed Elijah to have this reality to remind him and us of our powerlessness apart from God’s supernatural power.
To think and verbalize that we are the only one God can use, or the only one so anointed, the only one who can hear from God, and that we’re independent epitomizes arrogance and pride. (Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.) 1 Kings 18:22
Elijah’s fear was a result of his arrogant attitude that wanted to prove his ability to be used by God. Consequently, when the death threat came, he was focused on himself and his power rather than God’s power. Unfortunately, the threat forced him to run and hide in a cave and then feel sorry for himself to point of giving up on life. Didn’t he realize his life was not his own? As I stated, God is definitely not into pity parties.
Let me paraphrase God's response to Elijah's self-pity: “Elijah, get over yourself! You are not going to die! So, get up and eat. You need your physical strength for your next assignment, but not before I teach you an object lesson about My ability (power).”
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9)
Elijah responds with a pitiful, self-serving excuse: So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
After God demonstrated His destructive power (judgmental), He ended the lesson with His caring and understanding Presence that embraces the fearful, the arrogant or the pity party. Here is a revelation of God’s mercy and grace towards those who are the called according to His purpose. There is nothing more calming and reassuring than the still small voice of God.
Second time the question was asked. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13)
Again, Elijah repeats the same response in 1 Kings 19:9, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
What is noteworthy about this is God did not address Elijah’s response. He totally ignored it! When we get into our feelings God understands, but He does not buy into our emotional meltdowns. And if we do not get the message, He sends us back—retrospect, remember.
Again, paraphrasing: “Elijah, see where I brought you from…Go back! I am still going to use you—on to your next assignments, and in the process, I want you to know that you will be replaced. You are not the only one.” (1 Kings 19:15-18).
Are you tired and ready to throw in the towel? Do you feel like no one is as committed to doing real Kingdom work, that you are the only one? You are vulnerable to the ground level spiritual warfare especially when you focus more on your anointing rather than the grace of the anointing. Be careful not to display arrogance in the demonstration of God’s power. We are only conduits or vessels chosen by God even with our imperfections and weaknesses. Gratitude for the grace should keep us focused on the assignment. No doubt, you have experienced some mountaintop supernatural victories and some great ministry successes (whatever that means). Now, the enemy has come against you with death threatening assaults, and you are too fearful to fight. Remember, it is not in your strength that you overcome the enemy. You are chosen by God and nothing can stop what God has assigned to you. So, why would you ask Him to kill you? If Elijah really wanted to die, why would he run and hide from Jezebel?
God is asking you, "What are you doing here? What are you doing in this place of despair allowing your emotions to control you? No one or no-thing can take you out as long as I have more for you to do. So, stop the pity party! Get up, get over it and move on to your next assignment. It is not over until I say it is over."
©2018 Queen E. Phillips. Majestic Worldwide Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.