“And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life…” 1 Kings 19:3
Even God’s most faithful and courageous servants struggle with being afraid at times. Never underestimate the force of fear. It can quickly spiral into anxiety, despair, or hopelessness. Such was the case with Elijah, even though he had just experienced one of the great victories in biblical history. What can we learn about dealing with fear from this moment in Elijah’s life?
First, we’re most susceptible to fear when we’re tired. Elijah’s victory on Mt. Carmel must have been draining. He not only called down fire from Heaven and defeated over 900 pagan priests, but ended a three year drought—all in the span of a day (1 Kings 18:20-45). Can you imagine the physical and emotional toll?
We don’t think as clearly when we’re worn out. While we can’t avoid every stressful situation, we can learn to recognize how they affect us. For instance, anything that depletes our physical or emotional energy usually makes it easier for anxious thoughts to creep in. That’s why having a consistent prayer life is crucial (Philippians 4:6). Maintaining an attitude of prayer keeps our dependence on the Lord at the forefront of our minds.
Secondly, fear gets a foothold when we listen to the wrong voices. Although Jezebel was no threat to God, her threats sent Elijah running (vv1-2). Voices that promote panic tend to pull us away from the voice of the Lord. Remember, fear is one of Satan’s primary weapons. He uses it to intimidate—to separate us from God’s Word and isolate us from God’s people.
The result is emotional confusion. Elijah wasn’t sure if he wanted to live or die. He was running for his life one minute and praying to die the next (v4). That’s the force of fear! Your thoughts might not take you quite that low but approaching your faith from an emotional standpoint will always take a toll.
Why does the Bible say some version of “Do not be afraid” over and over? Because there are so many things in our world that generate anxiety. What situations make you most vulnerable to fear? What voices cause you to worry or panic? Take those things to the Lord quickly and acknowledge dependence on Him alone. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT). Yes, the force of fear is strong but God is stronger than our strongest fear.