Short Take: Elijah’s Post-Miracle Depression

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter, focusing on the Old Testament and related scripture in 2014. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

After calling down fire from heaven, Elijah commanded 450 false priests to be slain. King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was enraged and swore to kill Elijah. Elijah fled to the wilderness “and sat down under a juniper tree: and requested for himself that he might die” (1 Kings 19:4).

Rather than rebuking the prophet for a bad attitude – wanting to give up and die after a glorious miracle – the Lord sent help. An angel brought Elijah food and water for 40 days, until he had hiked to Mount Horeb and settled in a cave.

Eventually, the Lord asked, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Still discouraged and depressed, Elijah explained how hard he had worked and how badly things had gone, then complained that he was the last righteous person in Israel (1 Kings 19:10).

The Lord invited him outside to observe a wind, an earthquake, a fire, and finally a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). He repeated his question, and Elijah repeated his complaint.

Still the Lord did not rebuke him. Instead, he said there were 7000 faithful people in Israel. He put Elijah back to work, sending him to anoint two kings and to call and train Elisha to replace him several years hence (1 Kings 19:15-18).

I conclude that the Lord is more interested in helping us through our bad days and weeks than rebuking us, even when our attitude decays. He is patient, helpful, and kind.

Short Take: It’s Okay to Be Human

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter. We focused on the Book of Mormon in 2013. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

Tucked between splendid sermons and dramatic events in scripture is something we often overlook: down time for God’s exhausted servants. The Lord once put Elijah on a program of diet and exercise before sending him back to work (1 Kings 19:4-8). When starving Alma first went to Amulek’s home (Alma 8:27), he “tarried many days,” regaining his strength, before preaching again.

Thereafter, Amulek preached with Alma and experienced miracles, but he, too, was still human. Publicly joining Alma cost him his wealth and influence. Worse, his friends and family, including his father, rejected him (Alma 15:16). This took its toll. Eventually, Alma took Amulek to Alma’s own house, “and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord” (Alma 15:18). Then they went back to work.

A final, different example: Captain Moroni misinterpreted the government’s lack of support for his army and wrote a blistering letter to the Nephite leader, Pahoran. He didn’t know the Nephite capital city had fallen. In his mature and gracious reply, Pahoran wrote, “You have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart” (Alma 61:9).

We could wisely, patiently, and kindly make similar allowances for our own and others’ humanity, and be less inclined to judgment and more determined to see the good.