Remedies for Burnout (1 Kings 19:1-21)

How are you feeling as the year comes to a close? Are you feeling tired? Do you feel like giving it all up?

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah, the most powerful prophet of God was running from an influential queen, Jezebel. The irony was that Elijah had just experienced an incredible victory in a confrontation with King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, 450 priests of Baal and 400 priests of Asherah. But yet he ran, and he “ran” into a great suicidal depression. (1 King 19:4).

Exhaustion from ministry service, burnout or even depression can hit any believer, sometimes even in the midst of spiritual victories.  Our text shows how God restores this suicidal prophet.

God provided respite and refreshments (vs 5-8)

We need to take our rests seriously. Many of us are not disciplined about our “re-creation” time, rest from work, to play or even time for exercise. We work while we are supposed to be resting and sleep while our minds are supposed to be engaged.

We need to eat well too. We get into health troubles if we do not watch our diets. For example, eating too much of the wrong food and not eating enough of the right food. If we are always exhausted and lethargic, we should take steps to alter our diet and be good stewards of the bodies God has given us.

God provided a reality-check (vs 9-21)

While rest and replenishments are important, it is the conversation with God that is most crucial in this whole process. God had to remind Elijah of 3 things. 1. Elijah is God’s servant 2. God is not his servant and 3. God has other servants.

God asked Elijah a confronting but needful question. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (vs 9, 13) Coming from our all-knowing God, this question serves only to re-orientate Elijah to remember His calling and purpose as a servant of God. He even issued new assignments to Elijah. God displayed His power through the strong wind, earthquake and fire to reinforce the truth that even the elements serve Him. Finally, God as a-matter-of-factly, corrected Elijah by revealing that He has 7000 other people who are still faithful to Him. God was in essence telling Elijah that he was not alone. God even gave Elisha to Elijah to serve as a successor and helper.

To restore a burnt-out prophet, God did not give more sermons to Elijah. He gave rest, food and drink. God did not blast at Elijah to wake him from his sad state. He gave grace, assurance and help.

Which of God’s remedies for burnout do you need most in 2019?

Dn. Gideon Loh