by Andy Smith
I’m over fifty years of age. I’m supposed to eat less fat, fewer carbs, exercise more often, drink more water, take a microdose of aspirin daily, and seemingly a hundred other things, merely to keep myself healthy.
In addition to that, I’m supposed to be attentive to my spouse, firm but encouraging to my child, and enthusiastic yet moderate at my job.
Beyond those things, I’m supposed to be working on my spiritual life: prayer, Scripture reading, and spreading the Good News about Jesus by my actions and words.
This is all too much.
What I really want to do is lay on the couch, eat potato chips, drink beer, and watch baseball on TV.
So here’s my dilemma: if I try to do what I’m supposed to do, it seems overwhelming. If I do what seems comforting and easy, that turns out to be a way of avoiding my responsibilities. Either way, I lose.
I’m not the first one to feel this way. Elijah felt this way, about 3,000 years ago. That’s a long time, but I can relate.
He was afraid and depressed about his responsibilities, and God even told him directly that it was “too much for” him. He’d been doing his job well, but it went on a lot further and a lot farther than he’d expected. He’d have to “keep on keeping on,” and that was too much for him.
He was ready to collapse into despair. He was ready to go into hiding. He was ready to die. That seemed easiest. It seemed like the best way out.
God sent some amazing, miraculous help and encouragement to Elijah, who’d gone out into the wilderness, so depressed that he was ready to die. Elijah had directly asked to God to end his life: Elijah was ready to die, because the responsibilities of life seemed too big.
Instead, God sent the exact opposite: God sent the means to sustain, strengthen, and encourage life. God sent an angel with bread and water. Those are scarce in the middle of a desert!
God also gave Elijah deep sleep, which is often key in restoring mental health. God further encouraged Elijah to get up and journey onward, taking an active role in whatever God had for him next.
In my life, when I’m overwhelmed and ready to give up, God sends a similarly miraculous gift a gift which is, as Vicar Jonathan “J.P.” Petzold phrases it, scandalously simple.
Miraculous but simple: God reminds me that I am baptized, and that my baptism taps into the same power which raised Jesus from the dead.
Scandalously simple: a bit of bread, a sip of wine, yet somehow the true Body and Blood of Jesus, erasing my sins, and unleashing the power of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
Jesus energizes me, lifts me up, because He wants to use me in this world, in this life, to carry out His plans. When I feel like a lost cause, Jesus reminds me that He is the one Who redeems lost causes. He turns lost causes into something excellent.
When I feel like a lost cause, Jesus reminds me that He is the one Who redeems lost causes. He turns lost causes into something excellent.
Jesus was speaking about this when He said that the “poor in spirit” will obtain the “Kingdom of Heaven,” that those who mourn will be comforted, that the “lowly” will “inherit the earth,” and that “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” will be “filled” with it.
Elijah felt utterly beaten down; he felt like a lost cause. God picked him up and empowered him to return to his profession of bold prophecy.
When I’m feeling defeated, Jesus will do for me what I cannot do for myself. He’ll inspire and vitalize me. He’ll get me in shape to work for Him.
When I’m tempted to run away and hide, Jesus directs me to run to the Cross. That’s where the power is. That’s where the victory is.