The Greatest Gift
Jeremiah 31:25 “For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”
The Bible talks a lot about our need for rest. The Lord knows my frame and what I can take physically and emotionally. There are times when what I need more than anything is rest. He is the provider of all things including times of quiet and refreshment.
A Huge Contest that Created a Need for Rest
One of my favorite Bible stories occurs in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. Elijah, a prophet of God, found himself in a stressful although exhilarating situation. King Ahab of Israel had chosen not to follow God. He had married a wicked woman named Jezebel and she turned the king, and ultimately the nation, away from the Lord by encouraging the worship of Baal and Asherah. The citizens became confused and started mingling the worship of the true God with this powerless idol.
The bold prophet confronted Ahab on a prominent mountain in the region. The Israelites, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah congregated on Mt. Carmel where Elijah issued a challenge. “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” Yet the people refused to respond.
A contest ensued between the two “deities” that day. Elijah and Baal’s prophets each built an altar and prepared a sacrifice. The goal was for each to call upon their god asking for him to send fire from heaven to consume the offering. The God who answered would prove himself real.
Stress and Excitement Can Bring Exhaustion
The prophets of Baal went first and for hours they danced and screamed with all sorts of gyrations and mutilations trying to get the attention of their great idol. But nothing! When they wore themselves down Elijah commanded servants to bring bucket after bucket of water to drench the wood and the altar of his sacrifice before calmly praying to the God of heaven. “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”
Then fire fell from heaven, licked up the water, consumed the sacrifice, and the whole alter. A great victory was won that day. The people turned back to the Lord, the priests of Baal and Asherah were slaughtered, and God was lifted up to His rightful place.
A Prophet Who Had the Need for Rest
You would think that Elijah would be absolutely elated and full of energy after all that occurred on this momentous day. But when all was said and done the prophet crashed. The God-given adrenaline that allowed him to outrun Ahab’s chariot from the mountain back into the city drained away. Panic over the wrath of Queen Jezebel overtook him and he bolted into the desert to hide, slumping under a juniper tree.
This is the part I love! God didn’t berate Elijah for his weakness. Instead He sent an angel to provide food and encourage rest while the weary prophet slept. After eating the delicious fare provided by the angel, his strength returned. He now had renewed energy to continue his journey to another mountain, Horeb, where he would spend time with God more intimately.
God Knows Our Need for Rest
There are times when we go through difficult, or even exciting, circumstances. In the heat of the moment we often feel so strong and up to the task. But when the moment passes a crash is likely inevitable. God gives us the gift of adrenaline to meet the challenges of life, but we are not meant to live in this heightened state of response forever. When the rush subsides the body and mind need rest. God knows this because He created us this way.
So when you have pushed through a time of crisis or even enjoyed exhilarating moments of fun and excitement, don’t allow the crash to send you wildly running into the desert. Instead find a quiet place and allow the Lord to comfort and recharge you. He longs to satisfy all who are weary and refresh those who languish. Today maybe all you need is God’s great gift of rest!