We have all heard the phrase, at one time or another in our lives, “do your best.” When you think about it, those are three words that actually ask a whole lot of us. Being our “best” is doing everything with perfect effort, determination, willingness, kindness, and generosity all the time. When we’re working that hard all the time, burnout seems almost inevitable. Doing our best in our faith lives is no different; while we work hard to do what we can each day, we might mess up sometimes. Luckily, our God is one of infinite mercy and understanding, always there to help us out of a tight corner or a moment of weakness.
An excellent example of faith burnout comes in the form of the prophet Elijah, perhaps one of the most famous prophets of the Old Testament. “Wait, wait, wait,” you might say, “wasn’t Elijah one of the most celebrated of all God’s prophets? When did he ever need God to help him turn things around in his own life?” God was there for Elijah though, turned his negative into a positive, and reminded him of God’s own infinite compassion.
The prophet Elijah begins his ministry by saving a widow and her son from certain death by famine, and then by bringing her deceased son back to life.
He begins trying to re-educate the Israelites, who have begun worshipping Baal, the false god of evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Having forgotten the Lord’s goodness, there are no true prophets among the Israelites but Elijah. So, to prove God’s power, he proposes a challenge between himself and the 450 prophets of Baal: they will each prepare a bull for the slaughter, but will not light a sacrificial fire. Elijah and the Baal-worshipers will then each call upon the name of their respective Gods to consume the sacrifice. The 450 “slashed themselves with swords and spears . . . until blood washed over them.” Elijah then invoked the name of the Lord, and the sacrifice is consumed.
But Elijah fears for his life, as his actions have invoked the wrath of the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, and he runs off into the wilderness. He feels overwhelmed at the task ahead of him, and in his humanness, he breaks down. But God does not rebuke Elijah, but instead sends a messenger to remind Elijah to feed himself and rest. Then God himself appears to Elijah, telling him of the other prophets he has positioned, letting him know that he will not be alone and that his strength will return.
God knows that we can’t do our best every day. He knows that we make mistakes and errors. But he never stops loving or supporting us. That is the miracle of God’s power and love; God’s ability to spin every negative into a positive, even our own faults and shortcomings. Elijah, after all, is widely recognized as a model prophet. No one remembers his moment of weakness, for neither did the Lord dwell upon it.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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