Elijah is having a spiritual crisis. Queen Jezebel of Israel has threatened his life in no uncertain terms, and he flees into the fringes of the wilderness, where he sits and feels sorry for himself. He loses the "faith in the Lord" that had been guiding him to that point, including the demonstration on Mount Carmel that so infuriated the queen.
In the wilderness, he gets back in touch with his inner guidance. Its guidance is to go deeper into the wilderness, and he spends 40 days wandering in the wilderness, ending up at Mount Horeb (a.k.a. Mt. Sinai), where Moses had received the Law. Although he feels terribly alone and misjudged, he is also supported and fed every step of the way by his spiritual self—the Lord of his being.
Isaiah tries to hide in a cave on the mountain, but his inner guidance sends him to stand out on the mountain, vulnerable and available to the Lord. He is reproved for hiding and whining and given specific goals to continue his journey and achieve his spiritual purpose.
This is a a powerful chapter for all of us when we find ourselves discouraged by the challenges of life that can seem overwhelming. I certainly have spend my share of time in the wilderness of despair and depression, until I'm able and willing to hear the voice of Spirit within me calling me forward to continue working to achieve my spiritual purpose—even if I don't know exactly what that is. I am nourished and sustained, and ultimately I find myself alone in the wilderness, surrendered and willing to receive the guidance that will take me out of the wilderness and further along my personal path.