Submitted by Lyn on Mon, 17/06/2013 – 20:46
Year C (2012-2013)
Bible Book: 1 Kings / 1 Konings
Verse: 1 – 15
I observe with amusement the perseverance and diligence our high school boys display in their sport activities. The drive to be better than their perceived rival schools will pull and push them to the extreme. Injury seems to be a motivator to them rather than a deterrent. On the pitch a little heat-rub on the injured part will enable them to run for the next hour, without “feeling” anything. Even if it only means sitting on the side-lines, they will wobble to the game, but they will not desert their teammates for anything. The bruises, the limps, the bandages and damaged faces are their mark of pride, their signs of manhood and achievement.
Elijah, like the school boys for their favourite team, had done all he could. He had scored big and it seems as if the success in 1 Kings 18 would only add to his good fortunes. He was the star of the show, one against hundreds of Baal’s prophets.
And then he heard of the threat to his life from Jezebel. We see him in despair, displaying absolute defeat and deflation. Unlike the school rugby player, Elijah ran for his life. At that moment of attack, his life meant nothing to him, he had “enough” and he asked God to take his life. In a typical display of depression, he hid in a dark cave on the darkest night of his life.
Even those who work diligently for God can suffer from burnout, fatigue, exhaustion and depression; they have fears and need to know that they are secure. Depression can be linked to fear of some kind. In Elijah’s case the fear was caused by the realisation that wicked Jezebel could still take his life, even though he had victoriously displayed God’s power. Are we not like Elijah when we are faced with failure, when we fear to be alone, when the demands of our duties seem too daunting to face, when we have persevered and the finish line seems to be a mirage, more and more needs come our way. It seems hopeless and we are helpless and unhelpful. “How long Oh Lord, how Long, How much can a man take?”
In the course of our work with people infected and affected by HIV, it is easy to become crusaders and get lost in the zeal to help those in need. We achieve so much success, that we begin to think that we are the saviours, without us there is no hope, no future and no life for those affected by HIV and AIDS.
However, God’s design of our bodies includes exhaustion, fatigue, fear and depression, that acts as an inbuilt self-regulating mechanism, leading us to find rest and rejuvenate our bodies and spirits. Elijah didn’t take time to rest and relax, to sit back and see what God was doing around him, until he was forced to by the threat of Jezebel.
The great work you may do in facing the pain and suffering that comes with HIV infection and AIDS-related conditions brings opportunities to depend on God, to love all people regardless of how they got infected, the grace to forgive where forgiveness is needed, to endure when pain is relentless and to persevere in hope when there is despair. When people attack you with cynicism, stigmatise or slander you, or display unthankful attitudes, do not allow paranoia to take over your thoughts. Instead, remember that God was available to minister to Elijah in his distress. In Christ He is the God who faced rejection, shame and crucifixion and promised never to leave nor forsake you.The God who also calls you to rest!
Just as the school boys are inspired by the desire to be part of the team and to do their best for their school regardless of what happens, may you find your inspiration and strength from doing everything as if you are doing it for God.
To think about:
List a few practical steps you can take in learning from Elijah’s experience of depression and how God ministered to him?
What do you see as your role in helping those who are exhausted, fatigued and overwhelmed with caring for those affected by HIV and AIDS?
Written by: Leonard Tapiwa Makoni (MVDr.) Lay Counselor, Christian Counseling Centre, Harare, ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator.
Author: Makoni L. (Mr)