while he went a day’s journey into the desert. He went and sat down under a shrub and asked the Lord to take his life: “I’ve had enough! Now, O Lord, take my life. After all, I’m no better than my ancestors.”
[1 Kgs 19:4 NET]
Elijah was in a state of despondency when he uttered this unworthy prayer. It was not fright that produced this condition of mind – it was discouragement. It seemed to him that all the struggle on Carmel had amounted to nothing.
It is a sad picture – this great prophet lying there under a little bush in the wilderness, begging that he might die. This is one of the unanswered prayers of the Bible, and it is well for Elijah it was not answered. If he had died then, what an inglorious ending would it have been to his life! As it was, however, he lived to do further glorious work, and instead of dying in the wilderness, he missed death altogether.
It is never right to wish ourselves dead. Life is God’s gift to us, a sacred trust for which we shall have to give account. As long as God keeps us living He has something for us to do. Our prayers should be for grace to bear our burden and do our duty bravely unto the end.