Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O Lord!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19: 4)
The Israelites had become comfortable worshiping the Lord and Baal, giving each one an exclusive area of influence in their lives. So the Lord takes his claim by exerting his authority over the rain, thus challenging the domain and power of Baal. Elijah proclaims a drought at the command of God, leaving the land parched and dry. The story as it plays out in chapter 17 and 18 of the First Book of Kings is explicit: the Lord and Baal – who will the people of Israel be loyal to? After three years of no rain, Elijah challenges the prophet of Baal on the top of Mount Carmel. After this the prophet it worn out and cannot go on. He lays down and falls asleep “under the broom tree”. He was exhausted and depressed and ready to just give up, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. “Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water.”
There is a profound similarity between our present times and those of the prophet Elijah. It seems like we are wandering in the desert, dry and weary in the spiritual life and everyone is worshiping Baal. What is a faithful person to do? Like Elijah we need to be nourished by God and persevere.
“After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the Lord came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.”(1 Kings 19: 6-8)
We too are on a journey to the mountain of God. To get there we need to persevere. Perseverance means we need to continually begin again. To arrive at our destination we need to persevere in our struggle in going against our defects and to acquire virtue. Perseverance in prayer is necessary in order for our life to bear fruit.
God will reward our efforts if we rely on God’s strength. He supplies us with daily nourishment in his word and in the Sacraments.
For daily nourishment and inspirational quotes from Carmelite Saints for the journey visit Hearthcake and a Jug of Water here.