Elijah slept under the broom tree, an Angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” And there was a cake and a jar of water for him. He ate then slept again and again an Angel touched him. “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He ate and drank and then over 40 days and nights he traveled to Horeb, mount of God, and came to a cave and spent the night in a cave.
And the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
This is 1 Kings 19:5 – 10. Elijah is going to answer God with exaggerated words, or despairing words, or even angry words depending on your point of view.
But I want to hover a bit on the question. My guess would be when the Lord asks you a question, you need to sit up and pay attention. After all, God knows the answer, yes? It is a way for God to poke you. Perhaps in disappointment with your actions? Perhaps in expectation of some action you haven’t completed? Perhaps one’s attitude. Perhaps God asked the question so we who hear the story can stop and think.
Elijah has just brought the Israelites back to the worship of God, through the big showy magical battle, and then with the blood and killing. (Which, by the way, there is no equivalent to John the Baptist or Jesus — they aren’t doing magical battles or killing folk.) He’s been through a lot. He might be thinking about that time in the desert, with the ravens and the food they brought him, was not so bad. He’s on the run for his life again.
So where is he? What is he doing? I think we’ve all had experiences of the ground shifting under our feet with some change in life, family, or the world. Sometimes while the crisis is happening, you don’t have time to think or worry. Afterward, all too often it can come crashing down. You can be numb. You can worry.
Elijah hides in a cave. And God is going to wake him up this time.