One of my main struggles in life is that of fighting for my own rights. Ever since I was a little boy, speaking up for myself and protecting myself against my enemies has always been a problem. I am probably too nice to retaliate and too mild to enter into a heated argument with anyone louder than myself.
This failure to protect myself would often lead to private quarrels between me and God. The thing with God is, He seldom vindicated me from most of the onslaughts I had ever suffered in life. To be sure, he does help me. Help comes in the form of comforting words from loyal friends and comrades, material assistance from kind people or sometimes just the silent presence of understanding company. But still, God hardly metes out justice in the way I expect of him.
When I contemplate on Elijah's one-day journey into the desert, I can understand what he must be feeling. He had just put up a great show of God's power before God's enemies and demonstrated who the true God was before their eyes. And now, the enemies were in pursuit of his life for having humiliated them in defeat. Someone was deeply offended and was ready to spill his blood
So Elijah now had to flee. You see, despite putting his own life at risk to establish God's dominion over the other gods, God did not stop Elijah's enemies from this hot pursuit. He did not vindicate Elijah by killing those enemies while Elijah stood before them and smirked. No; Elijah had to flee. Run away. And that is precisely what God helped him to do; to run away.
After a one-day journey into the desert, Elijah was so exhausted. The God who had failed to kill his enemies gave him a moment to rest underneath the broom tree. He gave him water to drink and food to eat. What was he strengthening him for? To run farther. In fact, he was to walk for another 40 days and 40 nights. Some vindication that was.
It is a strange God who gives us the strength to run rather than to fight, the God who keeps us in safety but does not vindicate us or take revenge on our behalf. This is the same God we see Who gives of Himself in the Eucharist. Despite Jesus' resurrection, He was not vindicated. His enemies were neither torn nor destroyed. In fact, Jesus Christ remains broken in the Eucharist. And we are fed by the brokenness of the living bread.
I think I understand. God feeds us, not so that we can triumph without self-effort, but so that we are strengthened to run from sin and darkness to salvation and light. He strengthens us not to fight our enemies but to flee from them. And like Christ, we will not be vindicated, but rather, broken for the life of the world.
He gives us strength to run into the desert of the soul, so that after a journey of 40 days and 40 nights, we arrive at the mountain of holiness. Perhaps that is all that matters to Him.