The fourth mistake Elijah made is that he exaggerated the negative. He said, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (v. 10). Elijah held a little pity party for himself: “Everybody’s against me.” But the fact is that almost nobody was against him. Only one person violently opposed him, and her threat wasn’t a real threat. If Elijah had simply thought about the situation instead of listening only to his feelings, he would have realized that Jezebel didn’t dare kill him. The queen did send a messenger with the threat of death. But if Jezebel had really intended to kill Elijah, she wouldn’t have sent a messenger to warn him; she would have just sent a hit man!

Jezebel was too intelligent to have Elijah killed. She recognized his powerful influence over his fellow Israelites. If Elijah had been killed, he would have become a martyr. That would have increased his influence and probably caused a revolution in the country. Besides that, she was probably afraid of what God would do to her if she touched his man. So her words were just an empty threat. She let Elijah escape to the desert because she didn’t really intend to kill him. She just wanted to make him look like a coward in front of the nation. Or make him leave the area and thereby stop him from performing more miracles.

But Elijah didn’t stop to evaluate the threat. Instead, he just ran away. When we’re depressed, we always exaggerate the negative. Everything looks bad. If we’re depressed, the whole world is going to pot. Realistically, Elijah was not the only person still faithful to God. There were still seven thousand prophets who hadn’t succumbed to the pagan religion (v. 18). Elijah exaggerated the problem, and he sank lower than ever.

Another aspect of this is that we can fall into the trap of labeling ourselves. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” we say, “I’m a total failure.” Instead of saying, “Oh, I accidentally tripped,” we say, “I’m a klutz.” Instead of saying, “I ate too much,” we say, “I’m a pig.” When we label ourselves with titles, it only reinforces our problems and makes things worse.

Rick Warren, God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

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