From James Flaherty
Two of today’s texts (Second Kings 9 and Romans 11) point us to a third text that isn’t on today’s lectionary. That text is First Kings 19, one of my favorite stories in scripture.
Elijah flees into the desert, fearing for his life. One verse later, he is praying for death.
God enters the scene, literally—to wind, earthquake, fire, and a tiny whispering sound. God asks Elijah what he’s doing here. Then God tells Elijah what to do.
God’s mystery and power are entwined and exquisite in this story. It’s also remarkable that a story that displays God’s magnitude also displays His particular intervention. He speaks for the good of particular people in a particular plight. And he issues Elijah particular instructions. I’m tempted to look on this—clear direction from God, His instructions—as the true miracle of the story.
If you don’t know the story or haven’t read it in a while, read it now. And if like me you’re prone to despair and you find hope challenging, read 1 Kings 19 for its own sake, whether it’s your first time or not. In God’s hands, the particulars of our despair can become great occasions for His glory. May our prayers be answered like Elijah’s. And may we learn to pray earnestly, in despair as well as out.