When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, GOD! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”—1 Kings 19:3-5 MSG
As I read Elijah’s account, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Picture him as he sat in a puddle of pity. Elijah, fed up with following God, plopped himself under the broom bush. He wanted to throw in the towel. Instead, he threw a major temper tantrum.
“Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”
Lest we judge Elijah too harshly for his emotional outburst, let’s consider his circumstances.
Elijah was a prophet during a time when prophets were persecuted. He saw his peers perish in front of his eyes at the hand of their enemy. The prophets served God with a passion, yet they fell to peril.
Not only that, Elijah received a direct threat on his life from Jezebel. Based on what he had seen, he knew the threat wasn’t an idle one.
Jezebel intimidated, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” (See 1 Kings 19:2 NIV)
Fear and exhaustion overwhelmed Elijah. Rather than trust God, he ran for his life. He deserted his post and put on a good pout prior to turning in for a nap.
Perhaps we might relate to Elijah a bit more than we’d care to publicly admit.
As I shook my head and smiled at poor Elijah, I realized I wasn’t too different from him. I can put on a good pout too. I can get overwhelmed and want to throw the covers over my head for just a little more slumber, especially in high stress situations.
When’s the last time you wanted to throw the covers over your head for just a little more slumber?
Under the right conditions, we can all collapse into a puddle of pity. The recipe that requires resuscitation in each of us may look different, but the main dish looks the same—dinner in the desert.
Thankfully, we have a Father who feeds us!
God saw Elijah’s exhaustion. He knew what Elijah had walked through. When others might have judged Elijah for running away from his problems, God did not. God met His son in the midst of Elijah’s desert. God understood it was a tough journey and demonstrated great compassion toward His child. He is compassionate toward us as well.
God sent the angel to shake Elijah awake.
The angel said, “Get up and eat!” (See 1 Kings 19:5 NIV)
Elijah ate and lay down for ANOTHER NAP!
The angel of the LORD came back again. He awoke Elijah from his slumber and said, “Get up and eat for the journey is too much for you.” (See 1 Kings 19:7 NIV)
God lets us rest. He nourishes us in whatever way our soul needs to be fed. He knows it’s difficult to be good to others if we aren’t well rested and spiritually fed ourselves. Like Elijah, the journey would be too much for us.
God strengthened Elijah for the next leg of his journey. (See 1 Kings 19:8 NIV)
God strengthens us for the next leg of our journey too. He shakes us awake and nourishes us so we have the capacity to sustain our ability to love others well.
Rest in Him. The Lord is our strength.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.—Psalm 28:7 NIV
Note: This series of devotionals reflect on concepts and truths presented in Undaunted, a Bible study by Christine Caine. The devotionals are written by Deb Hoang, Erin Nicole Thompson and Tracy Stella, as noted.