The message of Elijah is not only that he was a human being just like us, but that we can be just like Elijah, demonstrating the “strength of the Lord” that empowers us with the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
One of the greatest discoveries we can make in studying Bible lives is that the people God used were just like us.
They were not spiritual supermen or superwomen but fallible human beings.
It is this revelation that can personally inspire us: that God can use even us today.
Despite my sins, my faults, my weaknesses and my fears, God can so deeply work in my life that I can be an instrument in His hands.
He does not wait until we become perfect, but as with Elijah He works through us even though we are still imperfect.
Although Elijah appears in the Old Testament, it is in the New Testament book of James that the weakness of his humanity is fully revealed.
In James 5:17 we read (in the Amplified version), "Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]".
Heinz Cassier translates this phrase, "Elijah was a man with the same frail power as ourselves."
Elijah was a person of flesh and blood with emotions ranging from spiritual exhilaration to suicidal depression.
He demonstrated incredible levels of faith but was also prone to absolute despair.
On the one hand he faced and defeated 850 false prophets singlehandedly but then fled in terror at a women's threat to kill him (1 Kings 19).
The name Elijah in Hebrew means "Strength of the Lord".
As a human being, Elijah was inclined towards volatile emotions and mood swings, but when he focused on God, Elijah received the strength of the Lord to overcome both his own weaknesses and those who opposed God.
James 5:17 quoted above goes on to disclose the secret of the power that transformed a feeble person into the "strength of the Lord".
It reveals, "Elijah prayed earnestly".
When Elijah prayed for no rain, there was a drought.
He prayed again and there was a thunderstorm.
He prayed for provision of oil and flour for the widow, prayed to raise her son from the dead and prayed down fire from heaven upon the sacrifice.
He fled for his life in a human response to Jezebel's intimidation, but it was when Elijah was in prayer conversation with God that his depression lifted and he resumed his powerful prophetic ministry.
Notice that Elijah did not just pray, he prayed earnestly.
The Message paraphrase reads, "Elijah … prayed hard".
These were not the weak, dutiful prayers of a person whose mind was occupied with a thousand and one other issues, but someone who passionately cried out to God from the very depths of his heart.
The book of James encourages us with the thought that if Elijah did it, then so can we! We are no different to this feeble man who was filled by the strength of the Lord according to the deep yearning of his prayers.
Notice not only Elijah's fervency in prayer but also his persistence.
He prayed three times before the dead boy was raised to life (1 Kings 17:21) and seven times before the rain-clouds appeared (1 Kings 18:41–46).
Like Elijah, our whole-hearted persistent prayers can turn our fear to faith, our doubt to certainty, our timidity to boldness and our self-pity to a burning concern for others.
The message of Elijah is not only that he was a human being just like us, but that we can be just like Elijah, demonstrating the "strength of the Lord" that empowers us to the ends of the earth with the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.