Have you ever shot a flare into the night sky that burst into the bright lettering, “I’m Exhausted”? I’m guessing you probably have—and I’m also willing to wager that if you look out your bedroom window tonight you’ll see my flare burning brightly against the evening stars.
This year started in a most tumultuous way with floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Our family was not directly affected by these extraordinary run of events, however it did feel like our year commenced with the bass player and drummer not playing the same groove. Add to this the exertion of completing and submitting a doctoral thesis and the result is “I’m Exhausted!”
Relatively speaking I understand that I exist in a world of luxury compared to world standards. I don’t have to line up in queues to receive my single meal of the day or walk seven kilometers to obtain unclean water to drink. Nevertheless I currently feel like I have done ten rounds with a heavy-weight boxer who has seen no reason to be merciful on my bantamweight frame.
Actually I can really relate to the story of Elijah when he flees Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-18). Elijah had just been a key player in revealing God’s awesome power to Ahab (1 Kings 18) and in doing so found that he was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. You’ll be happy to know that I have not slain any prophets of Baal in recent months, but the final stages of the doctoral submission process have left me seeking the quiet solitude and shade of a Coolabah tree:
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And be hold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” (1 Kings 19:4-5)
Exhausted, Elijah lays down and goes to sleep. In stark contrast to much of the modern ‘faith teachings’ that circulate today Elijah is at the end of himself and simply unable to administer any ‘up-and-at-em’ attitude to his current state; so much so he falls asleep. Notice that it is while he rests that God ministers to him by sending his angel. Mathews writes,
The angel of the Lord strengthened him with food, and he journeyed forty days and nights to a cave at Mount Horeb. It was upon the same Mount Horeb, another name for Mount Sinai, that the Lord had revealed Himself to Moses (see Exod. 3; 19). Elijah complained that the Israelites had abandoned God and that he was the last prophet of the Lord. But Elijah was mistaken. God brought in succession a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire to ravage the mountain. But the prophet did not hear God in these events. Instead, Elijah heard the Lord in a small whisper. By this the prophet learned that sometimes God works in quiet ways. (p. 143)
When we are at the end of ourselves we can lose perspective. Elijah had lost perspective, believing that he was the only prophet left; but God graciously corrected him. Not only did the Lord reveal the existence of seven thousand other prophets (physical assurance), He revealed Himself (spiritual assurance). God knows what we need and when we need it; even if we are incapable of seeking or requesting it for ourselves.
Exhausted? Find yourself a tree and allow the God of Elijah to minister to you…you’ll be in good company; I’ve already pulled up my tuft of grass and lay down.
Mathews, K. A. (1998). The Historical Books. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary: Simple, straightforward commentary on every book of the Bible (D. S. Dockery, Ed.) (143). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.