In the midst of people’s grief, people sometimes say really stupid things. I know they mean well, but it really bothers me. Sometimes, I think we don’t realize the things we say have more to do with our own discomfort in meeting others in their pain than it does with the others’ pain. It’s hard to hurt and it’s hard to sit in that hurt. Some seem to get stuck while others avoid. I know some who love others in pain well, bringing meals and showing up. But I also hear too many Christians offering trite responses, and it makes me cringe. I wonder if they’ve read Job and realize they sound like his friends. Or if they read the story of Elijah in 1 Kings Chapter 19.
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” – vs1-4
Elijah didn’t hesitate to tell God how he felt. He wanted to die and said so. He was done. It was all too much. Have you ever felt like Elijah? I know I have. Though I’ve never had someone threatening to kill me, I’ve had hard seasons where things feel like too much. And I can choose to put on a smile and pretend I’m okay. Or I can say, “I have had enough, Lord.” And I hope I choose the latter every time. Because God wants me – not some shell of me. Once in college, I shared in a small group fellowship about an illness my brother was facing. And I don’t know why, but one of my friends said, “God cares.” This has stuck with me ever since. I needed to hear it then, and I often need that reminder. Because somewhere along the way I got the message that my pain, my feelings, didn’t matter. But my friend spoke truth to me that day. God cares. Just see how he responds to Elijah.
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. – vs. 5-9
When Elijah told God asked Him to take his life, God took care of him. He didn’t tell Elijah to remember that everything happens for a reason. He didn’t tell him not to complain or to be thankful for what he has.
He let him rest. He gave him food. He cared for him.
The next time someone tells us they’ve had enough, let’s do the same. Sit with them, encourage them to rest, and feed them.
And today, I’m trying to remember that He cares for me. And He cares for you too.