Our first reading today from the first Book of Kings teaches us a wonderful and encouraging lesson about how God challenges us in those times as disciples when we are most exhausted from our efforts. In the passage we read today, Elijah had just finished confronting those who worshipped Baal, a false god, and proving that the Lord is God alone. He was so exhausted that he begged the Lord for death, hoping that he would soon be rewarded for his faithful service.
Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.
Elijah’s prayer for death was not acceptable to the Lord. Instead, God commanded that Elijah continue his ministry. In his exhausted state he could not refuse the Lord.
Do we, too, find ourselves sometimes wishing only to rest under the broom tree until we deem ourselves ready for a new challenge? Perhaps the Lord uses our fatigue as an opportunity to break down our resistance to new ministry challenges.