On the Seeds of the Kingdom website, author John Sainesbury had published on February 20th, 2023 an article he entitled “Rest”. After starting with a passage from 1 Kings 19:7, which reads, ‘The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”’, Sainesbury writes:
Elijah had just seen God win an amazing victory over the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). But, instead of realising and accepting that Elijah’s God was the one true God, Jezebel, the wife of Israel’s King Ahab, refused to accept this and swore instead that Elijah would suffer the same fate as her fallen prophets (1 Kings 19:1-2).
Faced with Jezebel’s murderous threats, Elijah was afraid and, understandably we might think, ran for his life (1 Kings 19:3). The call to speak for God in the face of such an aggressively antagonistic culture had taken its toll and, withdrawing alone into the desert, Elijah sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. In obvious distress, Elijah spoke out to God how he truly felt: “I have had enough, LORD” (1 Kings 19:4).
Maybe there are times when we can relate to this sentiment. We’ve given all we can, served God as faithfully as we know how, and even seen God do amazing things. But then we come down to earth with a bump, and it all feels too much. Exhaustion, disappointment, confusion, opposition – all of these things can play negatively into our sense of value, purpose and of who we are. There are times when many of us can relate to Elijah’s cry of “I’ve had enough!”
In Elijah’s situation, it’s interesting to see what happened next. As he fell asleep under a broom tree, an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat”. And there, by his head, was a cake of bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water (verse 5). I think Elijah must have been in a seriously deep sleep to have missed the hot fire being prepared and the smell of that freshly baked bread right beside him as he slept!
Being physically exhausted and emotionally and spiritually spent, what Elijah needed most were the basics of sleep and a really good meal. Sometimes we can be too quick to dismiss the fact that God has designed us with these essential needs. We can miss the reality that, when we feel burnt out, one way of us recovering and feeling better is simply to allow our bodies what they need: rest and refreshment. I don’t know if that’s how Elijah felt, but the angel did return a second time with the same instruction to eat and be refreshed (verse 7).
I’m not suggesting this is the answer in every situation, but sometimes the simple solution can be a good one. And, as you read this today, if you’re feeling tired and burnt out, maybe it’s time to allow yourself the simple joys of rest and a good meal. God knows our every need and Elijah was strengthened with just what he needed to keep him going (verse 8). Maybe that’s something for you too. Is God is whispering today that rest and food is just what you need to give you the strength to keep going?
Closing Prayer: Dear LORD God, thank You that You have designed our bodies so incredibly that we are able to do so much. Help us to a healthy balance of work, rest, and play, so that we can be strengthened in ourselves to keep going in our lives and service to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.