Chariot of Fire

Overcoming depression by remembering the presence of God.

Photo by Nicolas Becker on Pexels.com

Standing like a giant sequoia in a forest of ferns, the Old Testament prophet Elijah’s faith and power were unlike anything the Nation of Israel had experienced, both seen in chapters 18 and 19 of the Book of I Kings. In chapter 18, we find God sending Elijah to a widow’s home to rest for a few days. While there, it was discovered the widow and her son had no food and were preparing their final meal before succumbing to death. Elijah delivered a miracle of an endless supply of olive oil and flour with but a whisper of a prayer. A few days later, that widow’s son fell in sickness and died, leaving the widow thinking her sins had caught up with her, and God’s hand of judgment would strike her down next. Elijah brought the boy to his room, laid him on the bed, said a prayer, and the boy was raised from the dead.  There was no doubt to Elijah that God was with him and that with God nothing was impossible.

After leaving the widow’s home, God directed Elijah to confront the most wicked and vile leadership Israel had known, King Ahab. Elijah commanded the king to have Israel meet him by an abandoned altar of God on Mount Carmel with the 850 false prophets that had been leading God’s people astray. Once assembled, Elijah instructed 450 prophets of Baal to construct an altar, sacrifice a bull, and call their god to bring fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. Hour after hour, these false prophets called to their God with no response, even cutting their flesh with swords and spears, dancing and shouting with nothing but silence. After hours of this vain foolishness, Elijah called them over to the abandoned altar of God. He had them watch as he repaired it, used 12 stones to construct a new altar, dug a trench around it, cut the bull into pieces which he laid on the wood, and had some of them fill the trench with water three times, enough to run down the altar filling the entire trench. Elijah then called to God and asked for the sacrifice to be consumed by fire. With that, fire came down from heaven, consumed the sacrifice, wood, stones, and even licked up all of the water. Then Elijah took the false prophets down to the valley and had them executed.

Elijah single-handedly cleansed the Nation of Israel of false prophets, put an evil king in his place, ushered in a revival, and then called for rain to bring an end to the famine! Yet, just days later, we find Elijah under a broom tree asking God to, “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (I Kings 19:4, ESV). How can such a strong man of faith who had consistently demonstrated power from God, go from victory to “woe is me” faster than a baptist to a buffet line after church on Sunday? The answer seems to be in a letter Jezebel, the wicked wife of King Ahab, sent to Elijah when she heard her false prophets had been slain. In that letter, she promised that in 24 hours, Elijah would suffer the same fate as her prophets, death by sword. Could one woman’s words bring such a man of God from mountain to valley? Could one critic change the course and direction of a prophet of God? Or, could there be other reasons for Elijah’s shift from hero to zero?


Perhaps he did allow the voice of opposition to strike fear into his heart. Maybe he was just worn, weary, and weak from years of labor, thus spiritually fragile. Perhaps he considered his best days behind him; after all, how could he top a Mount Carmel experience? Maybe he was just so discouraged and done with a hateful and hurtful world that continually rejected God? While we don’t have a definitive answer, we do know that it was not much longer after this that God replaced Elijah with another prophet, Elisha, and took him home to heaven. 

While many commentators focus on the negative, Elijah allowed his discouragement to transition him out of ministry, I have a different take; perhaps God allowed Elijah to enter into His rest as a reward for years of faithful service. To know that God is intimately involved in our everyday, routine, mundane lives should bring us comfort. Elijah served a God that knew how much he could handle, how strong he was, and when it was time to call his son in from the storm. In II Kings, Elijah is walking with his successor Elisha when a chariot of fire, pulled by horses of fire, swept him off his feet; transporting him to heaven in a whirlwind (II Kings 2). I don’t see a God that is angry with him for not being strong enough but a God that knew the heart of his child and gave him the rest he so desperately needed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not endorsing or condoning you to isolate and insulate yourself from this world, allowing depression to set in, and asking God to end your life; what I am suggesting is that God knows you and in His time will give you the rest you so desperately need. If you are going through a valley today, please remember that God has not taken the eyes of His love off of you, and He knows how much you can take and will give you the rest you long for at just the right time. So, hold on, keep the faith, don’t let go, and one day, your chariot of fire will sweep you off your feet and take you home.

Scripture: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” -I Cor. 10:13, ESV

Question: Are you tired of the hurts and pains associated with this life? Do you feel ready to go home, that your work on this earth is done? Are you about to collapse under the weight of a heavy burden?

Prayer: Father, there are times that I feel trapped in a world of pain with no way out, times when the sins of this world are about to overtake me and overcome my faith. Please remind me that life is full of mountains and valleys and that your presence is sufficient for me to endure. Father, I want to be faithful till the end. Please grant me the faith to believe, the strength to continue, and a glimpse of the finish line when I will be able to rest, with you, forever. Thank you for knowing and promising to take care of me. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen. 

From Pain to Praise

What if God wanted us to use our trials to showcase His sufficiency?

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

We generally don’t have a choice when it comes to pain and suffering invading our lives, causing tears to flow, nights marked with restlessness, and if we’re not careful, leaving our minds full of doubt, spirits bitter, and souls unsatisfied. While we don’t have a choice over some of the trials that knock on the door to our lives, we do choose how we greet that trial. I have come to believe that trials are the stage upon which Christians either present to the watching audience a crippled and defeated life or one that showcases Jesus as more than enough. 

A few years ago, my secretary put a call through to my office. On the other end was a church member that had heard of a lady involved in a horrible car accident that took her husband’s life, and had been transferred to the local nursing home for rehabilitation. With no details, other than the potential to find someone that was discouraged and depressed, I made my way out to visit. On the way, I spent time in prayer, asking God to use me to introduce this lady to the Lord or to encourage her faith. I was not prepared for what I found upon entering that room.

When I entered her room, I found a bright-eyed owner of one of those “light up a room” smiles! I thought I had the wrong place. Nope. After a few minutes, I found out that in one tragic car accident, she had lost her husband, her legs, her dog, her car, and even her house, as the money from the sale of it was used to pay for her medical bills. Almost in tears after hearing her tragic story, I asked if I could pray for her, to which she replied something like, “I am fine! I still have my Jesus, and He is enough. Let’s pray together for all of the hurting and lonely folks in this nursing home.” Wow! But that is not even the best part of the story. After I left that room, I went to the nurse’s station to ask how long she would be at the facility and to make my intention of future visits known. The nurse told me to check at the information desk before each visit because she was never in the same room. Do you know why? The nursing staff moved her from room to room to encourage other patients who were depressed after having knee and hip replacement surgeries!

Every one of over 4,000 religions in our world looks to suffering as an inconvenience that should be avoided, prayed away, or as punishment for a past life of sin. Only Christianity offers a purpose for our suffering; that it “produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-4, ESV). Again, trials are the stage upon which Christians present to the watching audience a crippled and defeated life or one that showcases Jesus as more than enough.

When I visited that dear saint, I was but 30 years old and relatively healthy. Since then, I have been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, had five shoulder surgeries, one back surgery, and am currently on a three-month leave of absence for high blood pressure and other issues. What I learned from that Gloria over twenty years ago was how we respond when trials enter our lives, determines our faith growth rate, and what kind of an impact we will have on others. The next time circumstance invades and disrupts your life, remember the stage is set for you to present a God of power and peace to this world; the question is, are you willing to fill that role with passion and purpose?

Scripture: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4, ESV

Question: The next time a trial comes into your life, instead of praying it away or griping about how miserable you are, would you be willing to use it as an opportunity to showcase the sufficiency of God?

Prayer: Father, please help me to spend less time praying trials away and more time realizing you have a purpose for every circumstance that comes my way. If trials are your way of growing my faith, producing steadfastness, and conforming me into the image of your Son, then bring the rain. I want my life to make a difference, so please give me the faith and strength to persevere, and I will provide you with a heart of willingness. Thank you for loving me, and thank you for using me to share your power and purpose in this world. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.