1 Kings 19:9-10
“I alone am left,” Elijah moaned to God from the cave (v. 10). Never mind the 7,000 other prophets of Israel who have been kept safe, Elijah still feels utterly alone even though, in his own eyes, he has done everything right.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called loneliness a “public health epidemic, as over 20 percent of adults surveyed in America reported they feel ‘often or always lonely or socially isolated.’” Murthy wrote that we should treat our loneliness in the same way we treat hunger and thirst, as signals our body sends us to let us know we are in need of something we’re missing.
In our story, the angel has met Elijah’s needs for food and drink, but the prophet is still lonely. God meets Elijah right where he is and listens to his complaints. Elijah lays out his story for God, saying that even though he has done everything right and in service to God, now he is running in fear of his life and completely alone in this struggle. What may be most striking here is what God doesn’t do. God doesn’t say, “Be not afraid,” like God often does in Scripture. God doesn’t immediately send an angel as a companion for Elijah, either. This is not an easy fix, so God doesn’t argue with Elijah or refute his story. God is simply present with him.
Roge Karma, “Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on America’s loneliness epidemic,” Vox, https://www.vox.com/2020/5/11/21245087/america-loneliness-
epidemic-coronavirus-pandemic-together (11 May, 2020).
When has someone shared their story of loneliness with you? How can you be fully present to them in such situations?
God, sometimes we are lonely in a way that cannot be fixed. Help us be open to telling and listening to stories of loneliness. Amen.