July 06, 2024

Sleep of Exhaustion

1 Kings 19:1-9

He lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

—  1 Kings 19:5

Yesterday I mowed our overgrown lawn, cleaned our cluttered garage, and washed some of the filmy windows on our house. Physically exhausted at the end of the day, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

In our reading for today, Elijah is exhausted and falls asleep under a bush in the wilderness. But Elijah isn’t exhausted from doing chores. He has just had a dramatic confrontation with the priests of Baal (see 1 Kings 18:16-46), and now he is fleeing for his life from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Totally shattered—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—Elijah asks God to take his life.

Yet God doesn’t answer his plea. Instead, through an angel, God provides Elijah with sustenance for the road ahead. Then, after some more restful, restorative sleep and more food and drink from the angel, Elijah sets out on the journey ahead of him.

What can this extraordinary story teach us? We are reminded of our basic need for sleep and its restorative benefits. Even more importantly, we see that God tenderly cares for us, feeds us, and watches over us—even in our deepest, darkest moments. Though our own story may not be as dramatic as Elijah’s, God will provide what we need so that we too can take up the journey ahead of us. In fact, God has already provided for us through his Son, Jesus, who invites us to come and rest in him (Matthew 11:28-30).

Lord, our only hope for true rest is in you. As you reach out to us, help us to come to you. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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