How is your heart?
In recent weeks, mine has felt overwhelmed and paralyzed as a result. I have found myself feeling much like a car sitting at a traffic light in neutral. The light has turned green, the guy behind me is blaring his horn (so rude), but I don’t seem to have the gas to go forward. My creative tank of gifts I have to offer the world feels stagnant and low.
I think we can all acknowledge and agree that recent months have felt increasingly hard with the pandemic, the exposure of racial tension that still exists, and our country progressively being more divided and at odds than ever. I know there is still a multitude of good happening in the midst of it all, because God is the essence of good, and He prevails. I also know that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Like a broken bone that you can't just slap a bandaid on, but instead, must be properly set to heal. Healing hurts, but it's necessary all the same.
I started well when 2020 first fell apart and quarantine went into effect. I made a schedule of schoolwork for my teens and a daily outline for the structure of their days, even though it didn’t last five minutes. I filled my days of toddler parenting with painting and baking and a daily gratitude list for myself of all that I was thankful for despite the shut down of the world as we knew it. My adrenaline was high, my fight mode in full effect and I felt confident in my ability to navigate whatever came my way. It's laughable now. Go ahead. You have my permission.
Then reality began to set in that Covid-19 has likely come to stay longer than expected. Masks have become the new normal. Hugs have become a thing of the past. The state of the world at large is seemingly at unrest, as it should be when justice is denied and people are treated as less than based on the color of the skin that God gave them. My heart has often felt weary, grieved, and overwhelmed, as it also should because God's heart is grieved too.
In my weariness, I am reminded of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings, Chapter 19. By this point in the story, Elijah has seen the faithfulness of God in his life over and over again. God has given Elijah victory and demonstrated His faithfulness and that He can be trusted. Even still, Elijah receives a single threat against his life and we find him sitting under a juniper tree feeling alone and filled with despair and discouragement to the point that he asked God to take his life.
I can relate to feeling discouraged to the point that I want to give up. I can relate to being so exhausted from ministry, parenting, work, the disruption of normalcy, and this whole life thing that I forget that I am human and my need for rest is essential to my well-being and to prepare for the work that still lies ahead.
God knew that Elijah was tired and that his physical and basic need for sleep and food was distorting his perception of reality. He allowed Elijah to rest and commanded him to eat before sending him on to the next thing He had for him.
God also knows your needs, friend. He knows how each of us is uniquely wired and what our specific needs are before we even ask. He is not a cruel master who drives us at a pace that we cannot keep up with. Matthew 18:20 (NIV) reminds us, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”
Part of Elijah’s discouragement and feelings of despair were also rooted in the fact that he believed he was alone in following the One true God. He assumed that everyone else was bowing to the false God, Baal. Isn't this how we are at times too? Discouragement sneaks in and lies to our hearts. It tells us that we are alone. That the work we are doing isn't enough. That we are failing and falling short and perhaps we should just collapse under a juniper tree and beg for God to take our life.
Collapse, yes. Rest is essential. But take the discouragement and weariness to God and allow Him to renew your vision and strength. Our perception of reality becomes grossly distorted when we are tired.
God later revealed to Elijah that there were “seven thousand in Israel-all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18 (NIV). Elijah was not alone after all.
And neither are you, my friend. Your life matters. Your words matter. Your giftings are needed now more than ever. Rest and keep going.