1 Kings 19: 1-8 NRSV
“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again.The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.”
Elijah is a prophet, a truth teller, a miracle worker, but right now he is a man running from death threats, full of despair. Despair. I don’t know about you and your history, but I suspect you know a thing or two about despair. You may have even had a moment like Elijah, under the broom tree, alone, pleading with God to make it end. Our prophets had tough jobs. Speaking truth to power, showing up for the oppressed, turning people’s faces away from their own self-centeredness and toward community, none of these are easy tasks. Elijah, a good prophet, a faithful man, has become exhausted almost to the point of death. But this story is as much about God as it is Elijah. Notice what God does:
God calls prophets, equips them, sends them the words to reshape the human story into the kingdom of God. God does not abandon them in their hard work. Did you notice what God did here with Elijah? After a nap (please note: naps are step one), God feeds Elijah. A nap and a snack. Holy rest and holy nourishment. Like a good parent, God knows that in the midst of the hardest of hard times, sometimes what we need first is a nap and a snack. Naps and snacks are not trivial matters for us or to God; we know this because God keeps showing up through the scriptures in green pastures and in little cakes of bread, or multiplied loaves and overflowing baskets of fish. How many times has God shown up in your life as the face of holy rest and holy nourishment? As you remember those times today, we give thanks to God for rest, for snacks, and for never abandoning us along the way.
In Peace and Hope, Pastor Ruth