A lot of people are experiencing the after holiday crash right now. Sick, exhausted, burnt out, and wishing they could just hibernate until the spring thaw. It’s not a big surprise. We often crash after emotional highs. And from November through December we’ve had two solid months of excitement—overeating, under exercising, overspending, under devoting, and pushing ourselves and our families beyond exhaustion to squeeze it all in.
After all, you don’t want to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity—the only time of the year we get to see certain people, the only time our child/grandchild will be that age in that program. We think, This may be the last Christmas Great Uncle Albert is with us, so we make every effort to be there.
I was sick for a week after Christmas and wasn’t surprised. But I’ve learned some simple things about crash recovery from Elijah.*
Elijah was a mighty prophet of God. He was bold and did incredible miracles throughout his lifetime. But he was also human, and faced his own times of discouragement and doubt. I love it that the Bible doesn’t just tell us the victories, but also the struggles of others so we can learn from them and be encouraged.
Elijah had a huge victory on Mount Carmel against the false prophets of Baal and he should have been doing a victory dance. But as is often the case after an emotionally draining experience, he crashed. When Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him Elijah ran away. Sometimes that’s a good idea, depending on where you go. Elijah ran to God and said he wanted to die. He felt like he’d blown it; like he wasn’t doing any good.
I can relate to that. Sometimes life is so hard that we just want to check out. In times like this, I agree with David, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6). When I feel like a failure the easiest thing to do is give up, but God knows better.
The second thing Elijah did was vent. God listened. He’s good at that. He knew what Elijah needed. When we’re wrung out physically and emotionally it’s hard to listen. So God did two things for Elijah—he put him down for a nap and fed him some healthy food, not once, but twice. Empowered by this angel food, he went to the mountain of God, and God talked to him there.
It’s simple, but true. Rest and nutrition makes all the difference in recovering from the after holiday slump. I’m amazed how much better I feel this week getting back into a regular routine of healthy eating, sleep, and exercise.
But Elijah still wasn’t ready to go back to work. When God asked him what his problem was he said, “I’ve given it all I’ve got, Lord, but the people just aren’t responding. I’m the only one doing your work and now they’re after me too.”
Have you ever said that? I’m the only one who ever does the dishes. I’m the only one who carries the weight at work. I’m the only one who ever calls. I’m the only one who is faithfully serving God and the enemy is out to get me. I’m tired and I want to go home!
But God had news for him, and this is where Elijah got energized. First, God shook the mountain with His power, reminding Elijah how BIG He is and how small our problems are in comparison. Then He told him there were 7,000 faithful believers who still loved God, and three men God had prepared to help with the work. Elijah wasn’t alone.
A little R&R after the crush of family gatherings, programs, and parties and then it’s time to connect with other believers. We need to know we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones fighting for the cause of Christ. It has meant so much to me this week to have meaningful connections with others who love the Lord. They filled and inspired me with energy and excitement to do God’s will.
If you are feeling deflated and worn out, ask God what it is you need: To run away and vent to Him? To get some rest? To eat healthy food and exercise? To connect with God-loving people? Whatever He tells you, do what He says. You’ll be glad you did.
* You can read about Elijah’s experience in 1 Kings chapter 19.
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