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
We all go through a phase in life where you feel discouraged, depressed and unworthy. For some, it might be a day, for others, might be weeks or even months. While doctors call that phase “Depression”, I call that state of mind “Juniper Day experience”. You might wonder, where in the world did I get such a definition. In today’s devotion, I would like to explain that more and help you understand how to overcome those days in our lives.
Let us turn our attention to 1 Kings chapter 19. There you see the prophet of God, Elijah fleeing from Jezebel into the wilderness. Now remember, this is the same prophet who prayed and prevented the rain for three and half years. This is the same Elijah who prayed once again and heaven sent rain according to his request. This is the same man of God who performed a great miracle in the Mt. Carmel and showed the difference between the people of God and the people of Baal. At Mt. Carmel, Elijah destroyed 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. At his word, God opened tongues of fire from heaven and burned up the sacrifices on the altar even though it was drenched in water. (1 Kings 18:38). Yes, Elijah was truly a mighty man of God. Heavens responded to his requests and he preformed many miracles. It was through him that the Lord spoke to the Nation. But in the book of James, we read that Elijah was a man in our nature. Can you visualise Elijah , just like an ordinary man at Mt. Carmel? To me, he looks like a superhero. In the 19th chapter , you see a different picture of Elijah. He is hiding within a cave in Mt. Horeb. But God strengthened him in that mountain with His presence. Between these two mountain experiences, something happened…There was a phase of discouragement in Elijah’s life…a time under the Juniper tree.
Now , how did he end up under a juniper tree? After the Mt. Carmel experience, King Ahab told Jezebel, everything that Elijah did to the prophets and he plotted to kill him. Elijah was scared and ran for his life. Remember, this is the same Elijah who did not fear the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. What made Elijah to flee into the wilderness? Why was he so discouraged under that juniper tree wanting to die? Can a mighty man of God experience such a phase in life?
Let us find out the reasons for his disappointment and despair. Elijah was physically exhausted. He ran before Ahab, in the rain, from Mount Carmel to Jezreel, about 30 miles( 1 Kings 18:46) When Jezebel threatened his life, he fled to Beersheba, another 60 miles south( 1 Kings 19:1-3). From Beersheba, he fled, a day’s journey into the desert, about 15 miles (1 Kings 19:3). So he travelled almost 100 miles and was exhausted. He sat under that juniper tree and prayed..”Lord, I have had enough, Take my life”. Physical exhaustion was the first reason for Elijah’s discouragement. Remember, we too, when physically tired and exhausted, cannot feel the presence of God. Unnecessary stress in life can take your focus from God. That was the same thing that happened with Martha..She was anxious about many things and could not choose the best, like Mary her sister. Our spiritual life is often affected by our physical condition. Satan tries to tempt us when we tired and weary. He even tried to tempt Jesus after His 40 days of fast.
Second cause for Elijah’s discouragement was the fear that Satan put in his mind. Whenever Satan sees a deliverance performed by a man of God, he tries to use his tools to put him down. He uses different tools with different people. With some, he uses the tool of pride. With others, he uses the tool of failure, fear and hatred. Do you think that Jezebel would have killed Elijah? Will heaven witness such an evil plot, without interfering and working in favour of Elijah, God’s chosen prophet? That was a lie that turned out as fear in Elijah’s mind. That fear made him think that he is all alone and sitting under that juniper tree, he wished to die.
Are you under that Juniper tree today? Are you discouraged and in despair? Are you saying, “Lord, I have had enough, Take my life” Dear, child of God, You have been running for long. You are tired and weary. You are drained out by the troubles of this life. Stop running for things that are not worthy enough. It will just make you exhausted. And when Satan sees that you are physically tired, he will try to inject his ideas and thoughts in you which will weigh you down even more. If this state of Juniper tree experience came upon the life of Elijah, it can happen in our lives too. But be aware of Satan’s tactics. Run for Jesus and His Kingdom.
But, I’m so happy to say that we serve a God who will not leave us under that Juniper tree. When Elijah was exhusted under that tree, God sent an angel and strengthened him. When he opened his eyes and looked, he saw fresh bread baked on hot coals and a jar of water. Again the angel touched him and strengthened him and asked him to eat the food. Though Elijah wanted to end his life then and there, God wanted him to do more for heaven. The journey ahead of him was long and he needed the strength for that. So heaven provided the food for him that day. that gave him the strength to travel forty days and forty nights to reach the mountain of God, Mt. Horeb. At that mountain, God strengthened him again with His presence and His still voice gave Elijah his new assignments.
Between two mountain top experiences, there could be juniper tree experiences too. But, if a child of God is in the wilderness, facing the trials of Satan, God will sent His angel to strengthen you. He will satisfy your physical and spiritual needs and guide you to a new experience at the mountain of God. The word of God is like the freshly baked bread on hot coals and the Holy spirit is the jar of water that can soothe our burning hearts. Strengthen yourself with this spiritual food and get up from where you are and run to that mountain of God. There God will reveal your future plans.