In the book of I Kings we meet Elijah, a man of God who confronts kings and nations, who is instrumental in miracles that include raising people from the dead and fire dropping from the heavens.
He’s a pretty intense prophet who lived during a particularly dark period in Israel’s history—a truth that put him on the wrong end of politics more than once.
And in the middle of his story we find a snippet that reveals something marvelous about the character of God.
You see, in I Kings 19 we find Elijah just finishing an impressive line up of prophet-work. In chapter 17 he raises the widow’s son from the dead and in chapter 18 he confronts King Ahab which leads to the showdown between God and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
The Elijah we see here is bold, aggressive, and powerful. He’s a leader of impressive strength. But instead of being honored for his abilities, he’s marked. Queen Jezebel declares she’s going to have him murdered.
So in chapter 19 we find him running and hiding out. It seems like fear for his life is the motive, but it’s more than that. He’s not hiding from Jezebel to save his life. In fact, he says to God, “It is enough, now, O Lord, take away my life…” (emphasis mine)
He’s actually just done. Done with politics and corrupt nations. Done with evil and the marks of death and loss. Done with trying to fight for a side that nobody else seems to want to fight for.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. I’ve been done. Exhausted. Worn out. Tired of fighting against the onslaught of the enemy and never seeing the kind of breakthrough I’m working toward.
And in my mind, I always expect God to be like, “Hey, stop whining and get going! There’s work to do!”
But that’s not what God says to Elijah.
The Elijah who is just done lays down under a tree and falls asleep and after a time, God sends a messenger to wake him up.
You know what the angel says when he wakes him up?
It’s not, Elijah! Wake up and get moving!
It’s not, Elijah! Why are you having a pity-party when NATIONS are hanging in the balance?
Nope. The angel wakes him up to tell him there is a cake hot and ready for him to eat.
Then once Elijah eats it and gets a nice drink of water, God lets him sleep some more.
Oh, there’s still work to do. There are more prophets to be called out and more nation-confronting to do and more miracles to shake the foundations of a people who aren’t sure of the glory and power of God–
—but first, cake and sleep.
I have a “But first, cake and sleep” moment in my own story.
It was after a failed adoption, when I thought we had been following God’s leading and all it had brought was loss. I was done. Done with working tirelessly to bring a child home. Done with fighting and fighting and fighting for something that was apparently never going to happen. Done with always attempting to say, “I know God is bigger than this problem,” when I couldn’t actually see anything but the problem. Just done.
My husband and I were traveling in Alaska, visiting friends while we waded through the strain of grief and loss and broken dreams, and we ended up hiking on an uninhabited island off Kodiak.
I had stopped to take a picture of a pool of water in the middle of a moss-covered forest and I whispered words eerily similar to Elijah’s. Oh, I wasn’t wishing for my life to end, but I was wishing for the end of the fight. I told God that I was tired. So, so tired. I was tired of being open, of embracing children who were taken away from me, of waiting expectantly and always being left empty.
And I expected God to say, Tasha! Get up and keep fighting!
But He didn’t.
There, in the stillness, with a bubbling spring of water in front of me, God whispered, “Daughter, you may rest.”
It was one of the most holy moments I’ve ever experienced. Where I felt the presence of God surround me and whisper peace into my physical and emotional being.
Looking back, that entire trip was my “But first, cake and sleep” time. I was surrounded by people who fed me and loved on me and gave me space to rest from all the emotional upheaval that we’d been going through. But it wasn’t until that moment that I truly realized it was all God who was gifting it to me.
We weren’t done, you know. Nine months later we brought our daughter home and there was tremendous upheaval and loss that happened during that time. And that was only the beginning. After that we lost our almost-adopted baby, who lived less than two weeks in the NICU, then we fought our way through another adoption that turned our lives upside down by the time we brought our son home.
Oh, we weren’t done at all.
But God didn’t say that when I was discouraged and aching.
He just sent me people to serve me coffee and gave me a quiet place to rest.
To all you are working tirelessly for the gospel—who are on the frontlines with friends, extended family, children, neighbors, and co-workers—when discouragement comes, remember this truth about God:
His compassion is so, so great.
When you’re feeling done, what you might need is a nice meal and some sleep; two things that clearly God approves of providing for His workers.
And for all of you who are watching a fellow believer waver under the weight of discouragement—what they might need is an angel who comes along and serves them a hot meal, or a hot coffee, or a protected place to rest.
Because this? This is the character of God.
He is our Comforter. Our Healer.
And yes, our Commander and Chief.
Both, all, together.
May all of you who feel just done today hear God’s quiet whisper—You may rest.