I can’t overemphasize the importance of ‘rest’. We live in a modern society, that’s aware, and educated. Almost every day columns are written in newspapers and magazines, by doctors, psychologists and dieticians, about how rest is a major key player in our overall mental, emotional and physical well being. Rightly so! Our modern lifestyle comes with lots of stress, tensions, hard work, erratic work schedules and wrong food habits, robbing us of our health. Hospitals, clinics and doctors are enjoying our savings.
Interestingly, rest plays a vital role in our ‘spiritual health’ as well. Spiritual well being also comes with natural wisdom, taking care of our body, eating right, exercising and resting enough.
As I have always depended on the ‘word of God’ for practical solutions for my life, I would like to share a story of a prophet ( from scriptures) whose behavior and consequential actions will help us understand where we go wrong ( in spite of the fact that we lived in different eras. )
Mention of Prophet Elijah is to be found in the book of 1 Kings 17. God of Israel, revealed to him, “a drought was to come upon the land.” The land was full of sins with idolatry and human sacrifices, and the drought was a result of God’s wrath upon the land. But Elijah was a Prophet, and trusted upon and was obedient to God, hence God had to provide for him while the drought lasted. So He was led (by God) to brook Cherith, east of Jordan. He was given instructions to drink from the brook and a raven was to bring bread and flesh to him every day, morning and evening.
I am amazed at God’s creative ways, of providing for His people.
Once the brook dried up, word of the Lord came to him to move to Zarephath (Sidon). A widow was to provide for him now. The widow was going through a very difficult financial situation and God wanted to do a miracle in her life. So God worked an incredible way of saving the widow’s life. Elijah was the vessel God could use. ( 1 Kings 17:10-16).
Now the trickiest part came in Elijah’s life when the word of God came to him, to present himself to king Ahab (1 Kings 18:1-2). Ahab was doing things evil in the eyes of the Lord. And as if his sins were less, he married a heathen and evil women named ‘Jezebel’, and served Baal along with her. Jezebel had cut off the prophets of the Lord! Only Elijah was left. And Ahab had sent to every nation and kingdom to seek Elijah. But Spirit of the Lord had kept Elijah safe and hidden from Ahab’s eyes. God led Elijah to safe places ( 1 Kings 18:9-10).
Now Elijah had to show himself to Ahab since God wanted him to. Not only was he to present himself but also remind Ahab of his sins. A great task indeed. But God was with Elijah.
Once he presented himself to the king, Elijah asked the king to gather all the prophets of Baal (450) as God commanded, and the prophets of the goddess Asherah (400, who ate at the table of the queen Jezebel) and asked them to dress up a bull without fire. Elijah dressed up another bull without any fire, and whoever’s prayer was answered, He was to be revered as God. It was agreeable by all, since it seemed fair. (1 Kings 18:19-41). Till noon no one answered the Baal worshippers. Elijah had a good time mocking them. Then Elijah gathered 12 stones according to the number, of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, Israel shall be your name (Genesis 32:28). Elijah repaired the (old altar that was broken down by Jezebel ) altar. With the stones Elijah built the altar in the name (self revelation) of the Lord. He made a trench about the altar as great as would contain two measures of seed ( 1 Kings 18:31-40) . He put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. Put 4 jars of water on the burnt offering and the wood ( thrice he got water poured over the offering). Then he called upon the name of the Lord! And fire fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust and also licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces, and said “The Lord, He is God! The Lord , He is God!” Then Elijah told them to seize all Baal worshippers, brought them to the brook Kishon and slew them there (Deuteronomy 13:5, 18:20), as per the law required. Now all these things Elijah was doing single handedly.
1 Kings 19:2 says, once the heathen and wicked women Jezebel heard it all from her husband king Ahab, she sent a messenger to Elijah, saying “ let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 1 Kings 19:3 says, “Elijah was afraid and arose and went for his life and came to Beersheba of Judah (over 8o miles and out of Jezebel’s realm) and left his servant there but went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree and asked the Lord that he might die.
To all it might come as a surprise.
Just the previous day, he was busy doing so much. He proved 450 Baal worshippers as absolute fools, and then personally slew them all as per law.
Now suddenly we find him intimidated by a foolish ungodly woman, that he ran for his life and asked to die?
Common sense says, it was because of lack of rest.
Being zealous for God and doing so much the previous day, made Elijah worn out. Before the offerings were kept, 450 Baal worshippers together were doing everything and offering the bull, whereas Elijah did everything by himself. The task was accomplished as per God’s requirement, but he got tired. He was adding on to his fatigue by running ahead of Ahab .(1 Kings 18:46). So many activities, were getting him out of balance. Even if he was living in a different era, he still was a human like us, who needed rest.
Have you ever noticed, when we are tired, nothing looks good to us. It happened to me so many times. When I am physically, mentally, emotionally tired, I feel extremely depressed. It feels as if nothing is working in my favor, no one loves me or cares about me. My spiritual life takes a complete backseat, and my mind is completely shut. I am illogical and confused, and find reasons to feel gloomy. I am cranky, touchy and irritable those times.
Elijah must have felt same way that point of time. Without rest, mental and physical exhaustion must have overwhelmed him, and he must have been out of balance. He couldn’t reason himself and asked God to allow him to die (his spiritual life was weak because of fatigue, his body and mind were out of balance). He must have felt misunderstood, mistreated, abused and humiliated. He was plain tired.
God knew Elijah’s condition, even if Elijah couldn’t understand.
1 Kings 19:5-8 says, “an angel touched him as he lay under the juniper tree and gave him a cake baked on coals and a bottle of water. He ate and drank and lay down again. Angel of the Lord came second time and touched him and made him eat and drink again, and scriptures say, Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God”.
At times it is only rest we need in life.
It was only two meals and drink that God offered Elijah that made him go through the next level of ministry. Rest and right food sustains us in life.
Nothing spiritual about it, but simple and practical approach to life and natural wisdom, of taking care of our bodies and mind, keep us going. God knew Elijah needed food and rest, since just the previous day, he was busy with so much. His emotions had fallen apart, his body had no strength left in it, and his spiritual life took a backseat because of lack of rest. So he was unreasonable, afraid and his faith was weak. If he could reason to himself, he would have understood, if God could be so creative in providing food through a raven for entire drought period, could He allow a wicked women like Jezebel to kill a man of God like Elijah? When it doesn’t make sense to us, how could it make sense to Elijah?
When we are going through issues of life, we should “come to God as we are”. Tired, fatigued, weak faith, afraid or intimidated….. It doesn’t really matter what we feel. All that matters is we give our burdens to God. We need rest “in Him’. There have been times, when I was too tired to even pray. I simply told God so, and just “sat in His presence saying nothing” and He knew and I came out refreshed, with stronger faith.
So next time, if you feel nothing is looking good to you and no one is concerned about you, know that you are tired. And it’s time, to take a break and take rest. Eat good, exercise, sleep, listen to some songs that build your faith, and spend time in Him. You will be ready to take the world head on …
(“”The writer has been a Cover page Model for various fashion magazines , anchored various musical shows for youth Channels and a (short film) filmmaker for Discovery Channel. Currently busy writing her own book””)