The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 1 Kings 19:7
I love Elijah, he’s the guy who gets to stand beside Jesus in the Promised Land, he’s a hero, a giant of the Old Testament.
He’s also human and vulnerable.
And in 1 Kings 19 we meet him in perhaps his darkest hour.
“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors”.
His exhaustion is clear, life has got too much, it’s too hard.
“Take my life”. He’s asking God for a way out.
I’ve done the same.
Between the ages of 14 and 19, my prayers were for a way out, an ending to the pain of depression I’d been experiencing.
It got so bad for me that I didn’t just want the pain to stop, I wanted life to stop.
Thoughts of suicide became my constant companion, giving me relief, but filling me with guilt.
This passage in 1 Kings 19 has given me great comfort.
The angels don’t express disgust, they don’t chastise him for his struggle.
They come alongside him, they offer him nourishment and lead him to rest.
They tell him that they know he’s had a hard time.
It’s a beautiful example of how tenderly God treats those who are struggling.
Almost a third of young people have thoughts of suicide, and I think we have an angel’s example to follow here, to reach out to our friends, let them know we’re for them and lead them to the help they need.
As writer Matt Bays says “Sometimes the comfort of God comes to us dirty, showing up where we least expect it.”
Let’s allow the comfort of God to show through our own imperfect comfort of others.
Rachael Newham is the Founding Director of ThinkTwice which offers mental health awareness, training and consultancy. This article is part of the ThinkTwice #SpeakOfSuicide campaign for World Suicide Prevention Day. For more information head to www.thinktwiceinfo.org.
Twitter @RachaelNewham90 @ThinkTwiceInfo