“And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life…The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.’” 1 Kings 19:3, 7
We often think of discouragement as a by-product of failure or defeat. However, we can experience despair even after great spiritual victories. Periods of intense service for the Lord, though invigorating in the moment, can be exhausting afterward. So, be on guard. Overcoming discouragement when you’re weary starts by realizing that fatigue feeds fear and works up worry.
There’s no better example of this in Scripture than Elijah. His defeat of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel sent Queen Jezebel into a rage. When she threatened to kill him by the next day, God’s tenacious prophet suddenly fled in fear. The same Elijah who fearlessly called fire down from Heaven, ending a three-year draught, now sat under a tree asking to die.
No doubt, the previous day’s events had been draining. It’s as if the thought of yet another battle was just too much for him. We shouldn’t be too quick to judge Elijah, though. After all, the Lord didn’t scold him. God sent an angel, not once but twice, to feed His prophet. Elijah’s perspective was skewed because he needed rest and nourishment.
Churches and Christian organizations usually operate with a small staff; depending heavily on volunteers. Many end up discouraged or burning out altogether. While God may allow you to sit on the sidelines to catch your breath, that’s not a permanent position for a follower of Christ. Regular periods of physical and mental rest are essential to serving for the long-haul. The same is true for physical and spiritual nourishment.
Are you showing signs of physical or mental fatigue? Seek God’s direction for rest when you’re weary. Start by recognizing that Jesus is our ultimate place of rest when we’re “weary and heavy-laden” (Matthew 11:28). Then, if possible, take a little time away from your regular routine. The obstacles and challenges may still be there when you return, but they don’t have to be accompanied by fear and worry.
Don’t allow fatigue and weariness to skew your perspective of who God is and what He wants to accomplish in and through you. As we’ll soon see with Elijah, there’s reason to be encouraged rather than discouraged. God often uses times of physical rest to prepare us for what’s ahead and to hear Him more clearly.