Lately I’ve battled this little feeling called “overwhelmed.” Heard of it? Yeah, it’s one of my favorites too. What’s a girl to do?
I’m sure there are times where I simply need to learn to say “no”. My children think I have no issue with that word, but let me tell you—as a people pleaser—“no” is a tough one for me. I’m learning, really I am, but sometimes I only learn by finding myself at my wits end and promising to never be there again.
But there are other times that life simply overwhelms (my BFF and I call these “eye-twitching" moments). Times when you’ve played by the rules, done all God’s asked, and yet life crashes around you. Flying high one moment, a puddle on the floor the next. Any one else identify? Then you’ll love Elijah.
Elijah. Great prophet of old. Used by God in amazing ways. Strong man of faith. Have you ever read about the amazing things God did through him? The widow’s jar of flour that never emptied, raising a boy from the dead, calling down fire from heaven—which, by the way, is my favorite story of him, from 1 Kings 18. I identify with his sense of humor (dare I say sarcasm) as he taunts the followers of Baal. And I love his complete faith in his Lord. But look at what happens immediately following this scene. I’m talking the very next chapter.
Elijah finds himself fleeing for his life. Ahab, King of Israel, wants him dead. Elijah spent his life in dedicated service to his Lord, and now must run to keep it. It’s not the first time his life has been in peril. And he’s had enough. He journeys into the desert, finds a tree and slumps down under it. I can just imagine him uttering the phrase often found on my lips when I’ve had enough: “I’m done.” In fact, the NIV version says “He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
Oh, I can feel his heart—can’t you? We’ve all been there. What I love so much is that God left us these stories so we don’t feel quite so alone. I mean, if Elijah felt this way at one time, how surprising is it that we may too? And even better, we get to see what to do when we’re in the same spot. In fact, I think I’m going to camp out in this passage for a few weeks, so let’s take today and look at the first thing God does for Elijah when he’s in this place of giving up.
Elijah is awakened by the angel of the Lord. God hears his heart, and what does He give to strengthen him? A cake of bread and a jar of water. Seriously? God could have given him a feast, yet He picks bread and water. And He doesn't simply offer it one time, but he wakes Elijah a second time to eat it again. Only look what God says this time: “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
See, God wasn’t depriving Elijah. He wasn’t punishing him, and he didn’t tell him to “buck-up”. No, He leans down and in essence He whispers, “I know you’re tired, my Child, I’ve asked a lot of you, but I am here. Let me strengthen you. You weren’t meant to do this alone.”
Yes, God could have given him anything to eat, but He fills him with the One thing he needs: Himself. Jesus tells us in John 6:48 that “I am the bread of life,” and He goes on in John 7:37-38 to say “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him (Living Water, as in the Spirit of God. Love that!).
Oh friend! Life will overwhelm us—guaranteed. But you weren’t meant to do it alone. If you’re tired and weary, fill yourself today with the Bread of Life and all the Living Water you can drink. He will sustain you. Everytime.