Monday Morning Devotional

Week of June 17, 2019

“[Elijah] answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’” --- 1 Kings 19:14

A recent article by Amy Novotney in Monitor, a journal published by the American Psychological Association, describes how psychologists are studying ways to combat loneliness in those most at risk. “According to a 2018 national survey by Cigna, loneliness levels have reached an all-time high, with nearly half of 20,000 U.S. adults reporting they sometimes or always feel alone. Forty percent of survey participants also reported they sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful and that they feel isolated. Such numbers are alarming because of the health and mental health risks associated with loneliness.”

The article includes an analysis of numerous studies as well as observations from leading psychologists, including Ami Rokach, an instructor at York University in Canada and a clinical psychologist. “Loneliness can occur when people are surrounded by others—on the subway, in a classroom, or even with their spouses and children, according to Rokach, who adds that loneliness is not synonymous with chosen isolation or solitude. Rather, loneliness is defined by people’s levels of satisfaction with their connectedness, or their perceived social isolation” (“Social Isolation: It could kill you,” May 2019, Vol 50, No. 5).

Today’s passage from 1 Kings 19 comes on the heels of remarkable success in the life and ministry of Elijah. By the power of God, Elijah provides food and oil for a widow, and then he miraculously revives the widow’s son who had died. Several days later, he finds himself on Mount Carmel outnumbered by the prophets of Baal 450 to 1, yet the fire of the Lord fell, proving that “the Lord indeed is God” (18:39), and that Elijah was God’s servant (18:36). Then Elijah prayed for rain on a cloudless day and a drenching downpour came.

That was then. This is now. Even after all of the mighty victories in which Elijah was used as the instrument of God, the threat of Queen Jezebel sends Elijah fleeing into the wilderness, feeling all alone (1 Kings 19:1-3). But even as Elijah despairs of life, God comes to him, providing food and water for a forty day journey that would take him to Mount Horeb where he found rest in a cave. It was there that the word of the Lord came to Elijah - not in the strong wind, or earthquake, or the fire. God comes to him in “a sound of sheer silence” (v. 12). And God asks a probing question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then God reminds Elijah that he still has a place and purpose for him. There are kings and prophets to anoint, and 7,000 people who have not bowed to Baal who need Elijah’s leadership.

Novotney concludes, “While the harmful effects of loneliness are well established in the research literature, finding solutions to curb chronic loneliness has proven more challenging. Developing effective interventions is not a simple task because there’s no single underlying cause of loneliness.” For Elijah, that intervention included rest, companionship, and communion with God. Lonely or not, these are things we all need.

Prayer:Lord, thank you for the many ways in which you come to us in our times of loneliness, reminding us you still have a place and purpose for us.

Note: There will not be a Monday Morning devotional on Monday, June 24. The devotional will resume on Monday, July 1.