Bob Tamasy: The Elijah Syndrome – And Each Of Us

Sunday, June 1, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Are you old enough to remember wringer washing machines? I’m talking about the kind with an agitator to jiggle the clothes around as they were washing, and a wringer to squeeze out moisture so the clothes wouldn’t be soaking wet hanging from the clothesline.

The clothesline? Really? Yes, but that’s fodder for another post. My mom had a wringer washer. She’d remove just-washed items from the basin and run them through the wringer to remove most of the water. (Not a good place for fingers.)

I wonder: Have you ever had a time in your life when because of work demands, or maybe life in general, you felt like you’d been dragged through a wringer like this?

Recently a friend mentioned feeling mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted.
I’ve been there a couple of times. During one particularly stressful period at work, I had pushed the proverbial envelope as far as it would go. Physically depleted, I wound up with an illness that required heavy-duty medication and physician’s instructions to stay home and rest.

I did as advised, determining to salvage the time by catching up on reading I’d been putting off. For several days I’d sit down with a book, read a paragraph or two, and promptly fall asleep for a couple of hours. During those days I didn’t read nearly as much as I’d hoped, but got much-needed rest so I felt renewed and recharged when I returned to work.

Thinking about mental and spiritual exhaustion, I love the biblical account of Elijah in 1 Kings 18-19. In case you’re not familiar with the story, feisty prophet Elijah singlehandedly confronts 850 false prophets to a showdown. Elijah and the imposters prepare sacrifices on altars and then call upon their respective deities to consume the sacrifices by fire.

Despite elaborate demonstrations and even self-mutilations, the false prophets’ “gods” fail to respond. Elijah, after demanding to have his sacrifice and altar drenched with water three times for emphasis, calls upon Jehovah God and sees the entire offering instantly consumed – even the water in a trench around the altar. The false prophets, deceptions exposed, are then executed.

Next Elijah accurately predicts a torrential rain ending a three-and-a-half year drought. Quite an amazing day for the lonely ambassador for truth. A great demonstration of faith. But right after the downpour, someone informs Elijah evil Queen Jezebel has ordered his death.

That is the proverbial straw that breaks Elijah’s back mentally and spiritually, and he takes off running. He’s had enough. “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep” (1 Kings 19:4-5).

However, rather than chastising Elijah for having weak faith (as many preachers have accused him in their renditions of this story), God sends angels to minister to him, feeding him and letting him rest. “All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’… He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time…and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you’… (1 Kings 19:5-8).

So why, after defeating hundreds of false prophets and predicting a miraculous shift in weather, does Elijah head for the hills at the news of Jezebel’s threat?

For starters he was human. Years ago Dr. Archibald Hart, in his book, Adrenalin and Stress, explained during major events in life – good and bad – the body’s stress hormones are activated. Enough stress, regardless of whether it comes from positive events like marriage, getting a job promotion, buying a house or becoming a parent, or negative events like financial hardship, the death of a loved one or losing a job, and we can become tapped out physiologically. It happens.

Elijah also must have felt as one of his successors, John the Baptist, would feel centuries later – like a lone voice crying out in the wilderness. He said, “’I have been very zealous for the Lord God almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me’” (1 Kings 19:14). Honestly, can you blame Elijah for reaching the end of his rope?

The good news is God did not denounce or discipline him. He understood the prophet’s physical limitations, letting him rest and feeding him. Then, when the prophet was restored, God said in essence, “Okay, Elijah, get back into the fray. And contrary to your opinion, you’re not alone!”

So while he might have fully depleted his physical, emotional and spiritual reserves, Elijah hardly lacked for faith in his God. If anything, the prophet displayed more faith than most of us could ever imagine. We often collapse even under minor burdens, while Elijah repeatedly put his own life on the line, trusting God to come through. Which He always did.

So Elijah offers a simple yet important lesson. When the press of life has taken away everything you’ve got, take a break. Then regroup, restore, and re-engage!

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.

 




Middle Valley Church Of God Holds Resurrection Celebration Sunday

Middle Valley Church of God, located at 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, "Everything Is Going To Be Alright" in the  10:30 a.m.  service this  Sunday,  as part of the church Resurrection Celebration.  This sermon is part of a special series of sermons based on the need for the church ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: What's In A Name?

The other day I was reading an article that said biblical names are declining in popularity. Aha. That’s why I haven’t heard of any babies lately being named Mephibosheth, Absalom, Hophni, Jereboam or Eliphelet! And given the ruthless reputation of Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 18-21), it’s no wonder that’s not a name of choice in maternity wards around the nation. Who would want their ... (click for more)

Tennessee Broadband Expansion Bill Sought By EPB Put On Hold For Now

Advocates for broadband expansion in Tennessee, including Chattanooga's EPB, announced Tuesday that efforts to extend community-based fiber optic networks are being placed on hold for now "because there is not enough support among state lawmakers to change a state regulation that prevents the expansion of municipal fiber optic systems." EPB earlier won a ruling from the Federal ... (click for more)

Haslam Adds K-12 Funds In Budget Amendment

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Tuesday unveiled additions to the FY 2015-2016 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks, including added funding for K-12. The governor last week met with school superintendents from the largest systems in the state over the issue of state funding for K-12. The next day, the Hamilton County Schools joined ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Look At My April Garden

On this April Fool’s Day, as I take my monthly stroll through my virtual garden, there are gorgeous flowers and there are weeds, which appear to be trying harder than the flowers. So let’s see what we find before searching for “The Prize Egg” on Sunday. A FLOWER to the New York cab driver who told a young writer, “Always remember that everyone you meet knows something that you ... (click for more)