What’s in a Name?


Categories: LifeOnPurpose


Elijah Sleeping

These blog posts have been focused on looking for the hand of God in the midst of our tragedies and trials. We can find encouragement in seeing God’s fingerprints on the events of our lives, and we can often see triumph when we otherwise feel hopeless.

Much of what I share here relates to our son, Elijah. As we look back on both his life and his death, we find that God’s fingerprints were all over Elijah in ways we didn’t always notice. That was especially true when we consider his name.

The Bible says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1). When we named our fourth child ‘Elijah’ we wanted to choose a strong biblical name that reflected God’s power and might. By his own admission, Elijah did not like his name. But during the last few months of his life, he entirely changed his viewpoint.

“I now realize it is similar to just my name Elijah and how shy I was about it, because Elijah was such a great prophet of God and I saw so many similarities in how he was calling me to reach people for him.” (Elijah 2014). Elijah wrote that message in the month before he died.

During that month, he and I spent a lot of time reading about the prophet Elijah from scripture. Our Elijah knew that God had gifted him in very special ways, and he finally grew to love his name after nineteen years! He saw so many similarities in his life to those he saw in the prophet Elijah. I will share here a particular section of scripture that Elijah and I spent time studying together. But first it will be enlightening to understand some of the events that happened the night we lost him.

Elijah hadn’t slept for nearly three days, and he hadn’t eaten in more than a day. We don’t know everything that contributed to his disturbed mindset that night, but we know that when he fled our home into the woods he was really not in his right mind. He had a history of fearing that he would be pursued by the law for things he did when he was 14, and he viewed our call for help that night as a threat to him.

We know that he never made it out of the woods that night. Instead, as we understand the effects of his fatigue and hypothermia, he simply laid down and fell asleep.

Now, here’s an abbreviated account of Elijah from 1 Kings 19:

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He went by himself a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

None of us knows when our time on earth is finished. But the Lord does. And for Elijah, our Heavenly Father had a perfect plan. He used Elijah’s life to touch many people with the good news of God’s saving grace and love for us. And he is using Elijah’s death to show us that we can find His fingerprints even in the midst of what seems like tragedy and loss.


Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ this post as you find it helpful and inspiring. Thank you.

-Ken Buchanan

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