I know one of the reasons for my exhaustion. Robbie has his days and nights mixed up again. He sleeps a lot, anyway, because of all the seizure medicines he takes, but all week he’s been sleeping all day and evening and then staying awake through the wee hours of the night. When Robbie doesn’t sleep at night, I don’t get much sleep, either. It’s hard to accomplish much when you’re only getting three or four hours of broken sleep a night.
I stagger out of bed in the morning, my eyes barely open, hair tousled and standing on end (trust me, it’s not a pretty picture!) and go out to the kitchen to get Robbie’s food and medicine and take care of his needs first.. Then, at last, I look forward to my coffee in the morning. No, not because I need that caffeine rush (I drink only decaf, even in the mornings) but because my husband has prepared my coffee for me the night before and all I have to do is push the button to start the cofeemaker when I get up. It is one of his little tokens of love for me that I appreciate the most. Doctor it up with a little Sweet’N’Low and some flavored creamer, and Ahhhhh...
Refreshment is the cure for weariness. Just as there are many causes for our weariness, the Lord has provided many ways for us to be refreshed. I’ve taken the letters of the word refreshment and made an acrostic of it to look at some of those ways. We’re also going to take a little look at Elijah (read I Kings 17-19) and see what we can learn from a period in his life when he was just plain weary and needed the refreshment of God to lift him up.
Not only is rest essential to our physical health, but we also need it for our mental and emotional health, as well. In the book of I Kings we see the prophet Elijah serving the one true and living God in a land of idolatry, even when he felt he was all alone. He faced the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, he challenged the king, he fled the wrath of Jezebel until finally he sat down under a juniper tree in the wilderness and said, “Lord, why don’t You just kill me now?” Elijah was just plain weary. He had worn himself out and now he was drained. He needed a time of rest and refreshment.
Jesus Himself needed rest from His labors. He encouraged his disciples to rest, also. Mark 6:31 says, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Rest is necessary for our physical, mental and emotional health, but there are other things that will help to refresh us, as well.
E – Encouragement Elijah isolated himself when he was depressed. We often do the same thing when we are feeling discouraged and down. This is the time, though, when we need encouragement, whether it be from our brothers and sisters in the Lord, Christian radio, a good Christian book, or whatever. Sunday mornings, when we are tired and weary after a long, hard week, Satan is right there whispering that we need to stay in bed. What we truly need, though, is to get up and find encouragement in the fellowship of believers at church, in the preaching of the Word and singing praise unto the Lord. Hebrews 10:24, 25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
R - Refocus Elijah indulged in a little pity-party. When he whined to God that he was the only one left in Israel that was faithful to Him, God told him there were seven thousand others who had never bowed their knee to Baal. When he fled to the desert he threw himself to the ground and said, “You may as well kill me now, God, because I am as good as dead anyway.” He took his eyes off the Lord, he forgot about the others in Israel who were still faithful, and focused on himself and his own problems. When we are weary and discouraged we need to take the focus off ourselves, quit indulging in our self-pity, and refocus on the Lord and others around us. “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1,2) “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
E - Ever-Thankful Nothing is more revitalizing to me than praising God for His many blessings. When we start to count all the ways He has blessed our lives it is impossible to stay down in the dumps. Apparently Elijah forgot to count his blessings. The Lord sent ravens to feed Elijah morning and night, He provided for him through the widow, and later even sent an angel to minister to him. Through the Lord, Elijah miraculously raised the widow’s son from the dead and defeated Baal’s prophets by calling down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice for the true God of Israel. You would think these occurrences would bring a spring to his steps and a smile to his face as He rejoiced in what God had done. When we are thankful and praising God there is no room for depression or discouragement. Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things…” He promises peace and rest when we are thankful. “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
H – Help We need encouragement from our fellow Christians, and sometimes we need their actual, physical help. Our self-pity or pride may cause us to refuse help when it is offered. Sometimes we think we can handle things ourselves and don’t want to bother others, but when we do that we are cheating our brothers and sisters in the Lord out of a blessing. The Bible tells us to “Bear ye one another's burdens…” (Galatians 6:2) I Thessalonians 5:14 says “…encourage the fainthearted, support the weak…” In Galatians 6:10 we are told, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” We need to share the burdens—not only others', but on the other end, our own. Elijah had helpers along the way to minister to him—the widow, an angel and Elisha. God sends helpers to us, also, to refresh and encourage us and we need to be willing to accept that help.
M – Music I’ve got to confess, I’m not finding any music here in the story of Elijah. Perhaps the lack of music is significant, though. If Elijah had whistled a little tune or plucked on a harp and sung, maybe he wouldn’t have been so blue! Okay, I’m being a little facetious here, but seriously, I believe music is a special gift from God to bring comfort, peace, joy, encouragement and yes, refreshment to our weary souls. Even if I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I can still enjoy all the benefits of music. David used music to minister to Saul when an evil spirit came upon him, and the Bible tells us Saul was refreshed and was well. (I Samuel 16:23) The New Testament instructs us, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” (Ephesians 5:19) and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16) Good news for those of you who think you can’t sing—it says in your hearts. Whether we’re listening to music, singing in our hearts or simply singing where no one can hear us, there’s no excuse not to use music to refresh ourselves!
N – Nourishment The Lord specifically tells us in these chapters in I Kings how He provided nourishment for Elijah during these difficult days in his life. He sent ravens to feed Elijah bread and meat twice a day when he was beside the brook of Cherith. He miraculously provided food for not only Elijah, but also for the widow and her son. When Elijah was at his lowest God sent one of his angels to bake a cake for him and give him a cruse of water. Wow! God must feel nourishment is pretty important when we are weak and weary. The angel said to Elijah, “Arise and eat for the journey is too great for thee.” (Isaiah 19:7) When the journey is too great for us, we need to remember that we need physical nourishment, and we need spiritual nourishment, as well. Some people have trouble eating when they are under great stress. Then there are the rest of us who do nothing but eat under stress. We need to take in proper nourishment to refresh our bodies when we are weary, and we need to take in the milk and meat of God’s Word to refresh our spirits.
T - Time We become weary many times simply because we are not using our time wisely. We procrastinate, and when we procrastinate we feel the pressure of things hanging over our heads. It makes us weary. We fail to prioritize so we end up running in a million different directions. The important things don’t get done, but we’ve been working all day—and things are still hanging over our heads. Then there are the times we run ahead of the Lord, failing to wait on His timing and will. Things never go well then, and we are once again stressed, frustrated, discouraged and weary. Learning to use our time wisely, learning to allow God to work things out in His time and way will bring about rest and refreshment in our lives. We are told several times in the Bible to redeem the time, which means to use our time wisely. (Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5) Ephesians 5:17 also says, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” That includes the timing of His will. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the LORD… and He shall strengthen thine heart…” Again, Isaiah 40:31 tells us, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Elijah waited for God’s perfect timing when he went up against the prophets of Baal. All day long they had called upon their god to hear them, but when there was no fire from Baal, when the four hundred and fifty prophets were worn down and bloodied from their efforts and when the people of Israel had seen for themselves that Baal did not hear them, then at the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah called upon the Lord God and He heard him and answered with fire from heaven.
Elijah was a great man of God. Let’s not forget that. But in a time of weariness, stress, loneliness, and fear, he succumbed to discouragement, depression and even wishing for death. If a man like Elijah can fall like that, certainly we, too, will curl up in our little fetal ball now and then and have our little pity-party or be too exhausted to even move. The Lord has given us many means of refreshment and when we let Him—and others—help us, He will lift our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our spirits in strength, faith and joy.