Girlfriends in God - Apr. 18, 2011

April 18, 2011

Is Fatigue a Spiritual Gift?

Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Then he went on alone into the desert, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree (Juniper tree) and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, ‘Get up and eat!’ He looked around and saw some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.’ So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:4-7, NLT).

Friend to Friend
On the seventh day of creation, God rested; a fact that always amazes me. Did He need to rest? Obviously not, but when God set aside a day for rest, He made a powerful point. Our bodies were created in such a way that rest is not really an option. Rest is a physical reality and a spiritual discipline.   

Elijah is a great example of a man in need of rest. One day he was the conquering hero, the next we find him sitting under a Juniper tree, wallowing in self-pity – and begging God to let him die. The poor man was simply exhausted. True, it was an exhaustion produced by victory, but it was still exhaustion.

Elijah had called down fire from heaven, proving the existence of the only true God, destroying idols and idol worshippers. Big stuff! In fact, it is my personal opinion that he should have been celebrating. So why was he so discouraged? It was a woman, Jezebel, who was largely responsible for his discouragement.

Jezebel was the evil and influential wife of Ahab, King of Israel, and widely known as the real power behind her husband’s throne. Jezebel did not worship the one true God of Israel. Instead, she was fanatical in her worship of the pagan god, Baal, and tried to impose her beliefs on the people of Israel. One man stood in her way – Elijah. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown on Mount Carmel, God answered Elijah's prayer with a stream of fire from heaven. You would think that a miracle like that would have convinced Ahab and Jezebel to believe in God. It didn’t. In fact, Jezebel was furious.  When she learned what had happened on Mt. Carmel with the fire and idols, she put a contract out on Elijah. Now stop and think about that for a moment.

Elijah had been in the presence of God. God had heard and answered Elijah's prayer, putting on an impressive fiery display for all to see. Idols had fallen. The prophets of Baal had either fled or been destroyed. And Elijah is worried about one angry woman? Elijah was tired and needed to rest – big time.

Discouragement often follows victory. Battle consumes energy and often leaves the warrior depleted and exhausted. Have you noticed that stress and exhaustion always produce skewed perspectives? Elijah lost his perspective and was ready to quit, which is where we find him ... sprawling under a Juniper tree ... the spoils of fresh victory all but forgotten. God's solution was simple. Elijah needed rest. Elijah slept and ate and then slept some more. It’s interesting to note that the Juniper tree was common to the desert. So is stress. Deserts are filled with stress and exhaustion. Elijah stayed in the desert for 40 days, not because he had been disobedient or sinned, but because he was stressed out and needed time to rest, allowing God to replenish and restore him.

A visitor saw several shepherds in Nazareth bringing their flocks to water them at the well. When the sheep had drunk their fill, the shepherds called and their sheep immediately followed. The visitor asked the shepherds if the sheep always followed their own shepherds when they called. One shepherd responded, “Yes, under one condition. The sheep that do not follow the voice of their shepherd are the sick sheep. If a sheep is healthy, it will always follow the shepherd, but if there is something wrong with the sheep, it will follow anybody,” the shepherd explained.

When we are sick and exhausted, we are in danger of following the wrong voice. Our defenses are down and our discernment is dulled by the stress of life. Rest heals and restores. Fatigue is definitely not one of the spiritual gifts, girlfriend. Rest in Him.

Now It’s Your Turn

  • Define “rest” and examine your life in light of that definition.
  • Why do you feel guilty when you rest?
  • Do you think of rest as unproductive?  Why?
  • Does that thought line up with God’s plan?
  • Find two ways to incorporate rest into your daily schedule this week. At the end of the week, list the benefits that rest has produced in your life.

More from the Girlfriends

I struggle with getting enough rest. I can’t list all of the reasons why I struggle with this rest issue, but this I do know – every reason is a sin. Ouch!  I know!  Getting enough rest is spiritual obedience. Rest tends to be the last item on our “To Do” list when it should be the first. I have discovered that the time I need to rest is when I don’t have time to rest. I invite you to join me in a new commitment to rest as we seek and follow our Good Shepherd.   

Need something for your pain? Enroll in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study,How to Handle Hurtand learn how to face and deal with the pain in your life. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.

Originally published Monday, 18 April 2011.