“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” (excerpt from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst)
Have you ever felt like Alexander? I have, and so did Elijah.
Elijah served God faithfully during the days of wicked king Ahab and his sinister wife, Jezebel, who introduced pagan worship into Israel. In a contest on Mt. Carmel, Elijah was God’s instrument to prove His power and sovereignty. Afterwards, Jezebel said she would kill Elijah. Fearful and weary, Elijah sank into the depths of despair, went into the wilderness, sat down under a juniper tree, and asked God to take his life.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers’.” (I Kings 19:4)
Elijah’s fear, fatigue, and frustration distorted his perspective of reality. He fell into an exhausted sleep, psychologically depleted and physically drained. God sent an angel to provide food and water. Elijah ate, went back to sleep, then ate again.
Do you feel like sitting under a juniper tree? Acting on the following four words can help change your feelings from hopelessness to hopefulness.
Our minds need rest from thinking and our bodies need rest from motion. Sleep renews and rejuvenates our bodies. My pastor says, “Sometimes, one of the most spiritual things you can do is take a nap.” Turn off the television and put away your electronic devices.
No one can go full-throttle all the time. Listening to soft music, taking a hot bath, or going on a walk are ways you can relax from the day-to-day grind. Crying can help release pent-up emotions. A friend recently said, “God wastes nothing – not even tears.”
Choose to be with people with whom you are comfortable, who make you laugh, who know how to listen, who will pray with you, and who speak the truth in love. Don’t stay away from those who care about you. Seeing a professional therapist with whom you can express your thoughts and emotions can also be beneficial. God listened to Elijah and let him vent his frustrations. God knows what we are thinking and feeling so nothing we say will surprise Him. Pour out your hurts to Him. Pray, asking God to renew your strength, stabilize your emotions, and give you hope during your times of distress and discouragement.
Reflect on God’s character and the things He has done for you, His provisions, comfort, and love. Remembering the times of God’s presence and power brings renewed hope and strength. Spend time in God’s word. Read one Psalm or one chapter of Proverbs each day. Underline verses that encourage you. Memorize scripture. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts. Make a list of God’s promises or the names of God. Choose to trust God even when you can’t see what He’s doing.
God knew Elijah needed to take a break from the emotional and physical challenges he was facing and lovingly helped Elijah transition from hopelessness to hopefulness. Elijah didn’t stay under the juniper tree and neither should we.
About the Writer:
Sherry enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Bible study, and traveling. She and her husband, David, are Directors of the Sonburst Class at First Baptist Dallas.