Throughout my healing journey, which has really been taking place my whole adult life, there were days when my persistence was rock solid and knowledge and wisdom seemed like ever-flowing springs. On these days, growth seemed to happen before my very eyes, and I felt like I was finally on my way to victory.
Most days weren’t like that. Most days, I felt like Elijah when he “sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die” (1 Kings 19:4). On most days, I also often did what Elijah did next. He lay down and slept.
In 1 Kings 19, God takes Elijah through a long process that eventually leads to action. This is a process with which I definitely can relate. Still today, the elements in the process are often what I need when I’m feeling discouraged, worn out, and/or overwhelmed.
- Get some quiet time. Elijah may have left because he was afraid and felt like the world was against him, but getting quiet time with God was what he needed. So many times, I just need quiet. Sometimes, I run away like Elijah did, but God always uses quiet times to heal me and prepare me for action.
- Nourish your body. When we have too much stress, our bodies need more nourishment. Unfortunately, we tend to either eat less or eat the wrong foods instead. Getting the proper nourishment is necessary for us to start moving again, just like it was for Elijah.
- Start moving. God eventually got Elijah going again. Notice that he didn’t have him go anywhere in particular. We know this because when Elijah was ready to go back into civilization, God told him to “go back the way [he] came.” Sometimes, we just need to put one foot in front of the other and start moving. Doing this led Elijah to a place where he could deal with his problems. My times of rest and nourishment always do the same for me, too.
- Be honest. Elijah was then finally ready to talk, so he vented to God. So often, our first reaction is to vent to someone who will agree with us. God doesn’t do that. As he did with Elijah, he listens and then moves us on to the next step. One of the greatest lessons God has taught me through this process is to talk to Him before going to anyone else. Increasingly, I go only to him and not to anyone else.
- Get organized. After Elijah vented, God gave him a list of action items that basically addressed Elijah’s needs. On my toughest days, having a “to do” list helps me at least accomplish something and feel productive. Having a list gives me focus. I don’t have to figure out over and over again what to do. I just move through the list.
- Take action. Elijah didn’t question God; he just got to work on the list. After having the time he needed to rest and recuperate, Elijah was ready to get back into action.
One more significant point to note is illustrated by the fact that this particular time away for Elijah came after his overwhelming victory on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). Isn’t it interesting how our biggest struggles come after some of our biggest successes? This truth tells us we need to remain vigilant and come up with ways to protect ourselves from the enemy’s attacks, which often come right after a victory.
I find great comfort in knowing that the God who led Elijah through his struggle with fear and loneliness is the same God who today will do the same for each of us. I know this because he did it during one of the toughest times in my life, and he continues to do so whenever I need him to still today.