Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-21
Elijah experienced a wide range of emotions, from ecstatic exhilaration to the depths of despair. James 5:17 describes him as a person just like us. Events in his life read like a modern-day case study in burnout.
J. Oswald Sanders writes, “Elijah appeared in Israel’s history…like a meteor, he flashed across the inky blackness of Israel’s spiritual night.” (“Robust in Faith,” pages 125-126). Chuck Swindoll describes Elijah as “plunging full-force into the midst of this era of gross evil and wickedness.” (“Elijah,” page 11). As we will see over these next days Elijah saw God do one miracle after another through his life.
However in today’s reading we find Elijah disabled by isolation. Elijah was stuck in emotional overdrive. He was driven, fatigued, tired, exhausted, weary, burned out, anxious, and running on empty. Compounding his problem, verse 3 tells us that he left his companion who had always been by his side during the good times. One of the great dangers of depression is its tendency to turn one inward. Many of us do the same thing. When we’re hurting, we withdraw from others. Instead of reaching out, we pull into our shells. And then we wonder why we feel so alone.
I know that some of you have been going through some incredibly difficult times. Like Elijah, you may feel like giving up — that you have no more to give. You may feel like you’ve tried to do the right thing, but you just don’t get anywhere. Before you throw in the towel, I want to show you the process that God brought Elijah through to help him regain emotional margin in his life.
Burnout is really a reversible ailment. Elijah was given four prescriptions that have great application to our own lives — if we’re willing to take the medicine. Rest (verse 5-8), Rediscover God (verses 8b-13), Reassignment (verses 14-18) and Relationships (19-21).
God reversed Elijah’s emotional burnout by meeting his basic needs. Let’s face it. Most of us are tired. We’re burned out and saturated. We’re running like mad on the treadmill of life. But God wants us to slow down. He wants us to reach out to Him so that He can adjust the speed of our lives.