[Elijah] looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 1 Kings 19:6
I once heard a businessman describe his years in college as a time when he often felt “helpless and hopeless” from bouts of depression. Sadly, he never talked to a doctor about these feelings, but instead started making more drastic plans—ordering a book on suicide from his local library and setting a date to take his life.
God cares for the helpless and hopeless. We see this in His treatment of biblical characters during their own dark times. When Jonah wanted to die, God engaged him in tender conversation (Jonah 4:3–10). When Elijah asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4), God provided bread and water to refresh him (vv. 5–9), spoke gently to him (vv. 11–13), and helped him see he wasn’t as alone as he thought (v. 18). God approaches the downhearted with tender, practical help.
The library notified the student when his book on suicide was ready to collect. But in a mix-up, the note went to his parents’ address instead. When his mother called him, distraught, he realized the devastation his suicide would bring. Without that address mix-up, he says, he wouldn’t be here today.
I don’t believe that student was saved by luck or chance. Whether it’s bread and water when we need it, or a timely wrong address, when mysterious intervention saves our lives, we’ve encountered divine tenderness.
How has God come through for you in a time of desperation? Where else have you seen divine tenderness in action?
Loving God, I praise You for Your tender, practical care for the helpless and hopeless.
The “angel of the Lord” who ministered to the despairing prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:7) is a mysterious figure throughout the Old Testament. More than just an angel, this figure appears to reveal God Himself. Hagar, for example, saw an “angel of the Lord” who speaks directly as God, promising “I will increase your descendants” (Genesis 16:10). Hagar then addressed God directly, confessing, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (v. 13). Exodus describes Moses encountering the “angel of the Lord” from a mysterious burning bush (Exodus 3:2), then God Himself speaks with Moses from this bush (vv. 4–22).