There is a term that has become a part of our vocabulary in recent days that I believe we coined by mistake. I believe we picked the wrong phrase when we tried to label what we know as “social distancing.” What we really mean is “physical distancing.” When we try to stay six feet apart from the person standing next to us in the grocery store, that is physical distancing, not social distancing. Social distancing means we refrain from connecting with one another on a personal level. Social distancing is when we don’t talk to each other, when we don’t text each other, when we don’t see each other on Zoom.
At any rate, physical distancing eventually takes its toll on you. We are created in a physical world and we live in a physical existence. God created us to interact with one another. And when that dynamic is missing, it affects us mentally and psychologically. A prolonged lack of physical interaction can lead to sadness, loneliness and depression. That’s why we are having to be reminded that “We are all in this together.”
Elijah had to be reminded of this truth. Immediately following his victorious confrontation with the prophets of Baal, Jezebel sent a posse to track him down and kill him. While Elijah was running for his life, he hid in seclusion for a long time. After a while God spoke to him. Elijah replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:14) Have you ever felt like that? Maybe you feel like that now. That’s how Elijah felt. Being alone for a long time warps your perspective. Elijah felt there was nobody else in the world going through what he was going through.
But that wasn’t the case. God tells Elijah in verse 18 that there were 7,000 faithful whom Elijah didn’t know about who had not worshipped Baal. Even though Elijah was isolated physically, and in this case even socially, God reminded Elijah that he was not isolated spiritually. There were at least 7,000 other people who were going through this with him.
And don’t forget, Elijah was never distanced from God. When Elijah had his showdown with the prophets of Baal, God was with him. When he was on the run from Jezebel, God was with him. When he was exhausted under the broom tree and needed rest and nourishment, God was with him. And when he stood on the mountain and heard His voice in the still small whisper, God was with Elijah.
So remember, you are not alone. There are millions of others going through this with you. But more importantly, God is with you.
Corps Officer Major Joe May is an ordained minister at Salvation Army of Greater Kingsport.