The Call to Self-Care

Youth Daily Devotional Blog: 06/09

Written by: Intern Sam B. Nguyen
Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-9
I remember waking up yesterday absolutely exhausted. My chest felt heavy and thick with a kind of stagnant emotion, like it was filled with old lake water. Although I had slept — though not as much I probably should have — I still felt as tired as I had the night before. This exhaustion, I noticed, wasn’t physical. It was grounded in something much more ephemeral, spiritual even. It was despair. Hopelessness. The emptiness of my spiritual well that had been created by overexertion and overuse. The incredible number of stresses that I am sure we all have been facing lately had been tearing me down, and it finally came to a head that morning.

I imagine that Elijah must have felt very much the same way in this passage. Here, the prophet Elijah flees from persecution from the reigning queen of Israel, his home nation. After his life is literally threatened by the queen, Elijah escapes to the wilderness, and as he is filled with this overwhelming emotion, he asks God if he would be allowed to die. And, seeing him in his exhaustion and spiritual drain, God shows a kind of personal care that can only be described as familial and intimate. An angel comes to Elijah, helping him get up and eat. For forty nights, Elijah is carefully cared for by this angel. “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you”, the angel says (1 Kings 19:7 NRSV).

We are all on long journeys, both individually and on a community level. God sees us in our exhaustion, and knows that we cannot make the entirety of the journey alone. In that, God asks us to rest, eat, and drink, that we may make the journey well.