God in the Care of the Exhausted
This week the Lectio 365 app is exploring the theme of God in the Care of the Exhausted. The app can be downloaded on your phone from Google play or Apple Store and will give you an opportunity to start and end the day with God. The story explored this week is the famous story of God’s patient care for the exhausted prophet Elijah (1 King 19). Throughout the chapter, God leads him gently on a journey of recovery from the emotional trauma he has suffered. It all starts with Elijah life being in danger. Jezebel is set to murder him and Elijah is afraid and runs for his life (1 King 19. 1-3). He seems to experience what doctors today might diagnose as post-traumatic stress or burn out.
His emotions are all over the place and he finally stops running, sits under a tree, prays to God that he might die and falls asleep. Sitting, stopping and being honest with God is his first step to recovery. Like Elijah, when we are anxious, exhausted or overwhelmed, we might also need to sit, stop and talk honestly with God. Sometimes we even need to stop our anxious prayers and just lie down and sleep. The sleeping Elijah is awakened by God’s messenger who brings him breakfast. Not a spectacular demonstration of God’s presence, but the simple action of looking after Elijah’s tired body and mind. His recovery includes a time of rest and food. Once he has been strengthen, the messenger calls him again saying “get up and eat.” This time, however, Elijah is prepared for a long journey. Strengthened by the food, Elijah travels for forty days through the desert and reaches Horeb, the place where Moses had met with God four hundred years ago. It’s a journey back into the roots of Elijah’s faith, a journey out of the lonely desert and into his own soul. Like Elijah, when we are exhausted and emotionally wrecked, we need to go back to our roots, hear afresh our first call, the call of grace, the voice of God that says you are my beloved, I have called you by name, you are mine. Finally, Elijah had to rediscover how to be with God. The presence of God was not to be found in the great and powerful wind, the earthquake or the fire, but in a gentle whisper. It is through our daily quiet times with God and our growing awareness of his presence in the ordinary things of life that we will find renewed strength and direction.
Lord, thank you for restoring my tired body and soul with food, sleep and your presence in my life. Thank you that I can be honest with you about how I feel and what I experience. Thank you for your gentle whisper that says “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine”