It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life.
-1 Kings 19
I write this on Easter Saturday. Some have called it ‘Long Saturday’ or ‘Silent Saturday’. It’s the Saturday when the disciples were hurt and confused. The circumstantial drama of the crucifixion was over. The joy of Easter had not yet begun. The wound had been delivered. Now they had to live with it.
Disillusionment is a particular type of suffering and is often an element within other types of suffering. It’s the unmet expectations and disappointments writ large. The trauma that circumstances and people were not as you had thought them to be. But God is disillusioning us because he loves us. We are of limited use to him as long as we have illusions. Removing them so that we can come to terms with reality is a painful but necessary step in God crafting his man.
This last year has held many blessings for which I am grateful. But it’s also included a painful disillusionment. I've suffered the loss of a relationship that I had poured everything into. Despite things that had been said between us, new circumstances now reveal that the relationship was not everything I thought it was.
It's probably drawn up every feeling of rejection from my past that I've ever felt – and then added some more. The only comparable relational disillusionment would be the unexpected separation and divorce of my parents when I was 12.
Here, Elijah is disillusioned to such a degree, that he wants to die. I've been there at least once in my life – maybe twice or thrice. At times, God allows his men to undergo this baptism of darkness. A minister of a previous generation wrote that before God can use a man mightily, he must first wound him mightily. And few things wound a man like the physiological wound of disillusionment.
The author of 1 Kings does not give us a full report on how Elijah slipped into this depression. After all, he had just performed a mighty miracle and won a major victory over the false religious teachers. Many of his countrymen turned to God as a result. Isn’t revival supposed to make you feel better?
The pain seems irrational. Jezebel issued a threat which a messenger delivered. What’s the big deal? Hasn’t he been a hunted man for some time? Life’s like that at times. We hardly understand the way our surrounding circumstances and relationships affect us. So much can be seemingly going well, yet we are not well on the inside. The circumstances that provoked our pain may have seemed large or it may have seemed small. But it shook something foundational in us. Now we’re just left with our pain to wait. But wait for what?
And perhaps that’s where Elijah is. So much had been building towards the confrontation at Mt. Carmel. And now it’s done. It’s a bit like how many people experience the intense build up to Christmas, only to feel empty once it’s over. Elijah is left wondering if his greatest moment is now past. What else is on life’s radar? The glory is gone and you’re left with nothing but good memories. And for how long? What is there to live for now?
It’s impossible to see Easter morning when you’re in Silent Saturday – but it’s coming. God is now doing his silent work in the confusion and the pain. We think the story of our life has tragically ended. No. He’s preparing us for the next chapter.