Our Basic Needs

1 Kings 19:4-8 NRSV

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

Background
In this particular chapter, you will find that Elijah is feeling alone. Later in this chapter, Elijah talks to God with vulnerability and receives instructions, and becomes the mentor to Elisha. In your own devotional period, reflect on the pacing of this chapter. Does this series of events seem to be moving at a pace you could copy? Why or why not?

Today’s lesson will focus on the importance of our basic needs. Read the scripture out loud together. What’s happening during this passage?
Elijah is a day’s journey into the wilderness. He finds a tree to sit under. He begs God to “take away his life.” He sits under the tree and falls into a nap. An angel wakes him up to remind him to eat. As he looks around, he finds a cake (or bread) and a jar of water. He had something to eat and drink and laid down again. This second time, the angel wakes him up to say, “get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He follows the instructions of the angel and then goes on a journey for forty days and forty nights to meet with God at Mount Horeb.

Who made the meal?
The text does not tell us who made this meal. But cooking takes labor. Perhaps the angel cooked. Perhaps some kind stranger passing by left something for Elijah. Maybe Elijah was so out of his own mind that he was the one to cook, but he forgot he’d left the bread in the hot stone oven. We do not know.

It is natural when we are burned out that we miss these details. Have you ever been driving or walking someplace, and you find yourself hypnotized? Maybe you can’t remember how you got to your destination because you’d been on autopilot?

Why did Elijah feel so distraught?
There are good reasons for Elijah to be so stressed. Among these, guilt, and shame. But even before we get to those reasons, Elijah was not attending to his own bodily needs. He very earnestly called out to God with self-harming intentions hoping for his life to be ended.

Have you ever been at the end of your wits and just had to cry? And then that cry put you to sleep? You wake up and feel a little clearer. You might even have a little snack. Crying, eating, and sleeping don’t fix the problem that might have been bothering us, but it helps us be more prepared to meet the problem. We are often discouraged from expressing our emotions and our worries. We are taught to hide these things and project an image of strength. But pretending to be strong will only work for so long. At some point, you need to rest under a tree and have something to eat.

You are more than your job, and you are more than a brain on two legs. You have a stomach that needs to be fed and organs that need to be hydrated with water. You cannot physically carry out any tasks (mental, physical, or otherwise) without your body being in the right place to do so.

What questions do you still have of this scripture? How will you commit to journeying with this text this week?

Connection to Today’s World

For the Tokyo Olympics, gymnastics favorite Simone Biles announced that she’d be withdrawing from the all-around and the team final. In doing so, she received a good deal of criticism and finger wagging. While at the Olympics, she realized she had “the twisties,” which is a dangerous mind-body split for gymnasts. The twisties is a phenomenon in which gymnasts are suddenly unable to complete spins, which is crucial for an athlete like Biles who spends most of her time in the air. In her own words, she said, ““Literally cannot tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever not having an inch of control over your body. What’s even scarier is that because I have no idea where I am in the air, I also have NO idea how I’m going to land. Or what I’m going to land on. Head / hands/ feet/ back …”

She also talked back to speculators who assumed this meant she had quit. “My mind and body are simply not in sync … I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first.” Doing so kept her safe. Biles’ major takeaway? “At the end of the day, my mental and physical health is better than any medal.”
Around the world, many people found themselves cheering Biles on. And they should! No one wants to witness a dangerous injury live because she pushed herself too hard. At the same time, it’s important for all of us, Olympian or not, to have the access and ability to take time off. If we can recognize that stepping back from the high pressure to perform was an overall good thing for Biles, then can we extend empathy to the people we meet daily? The barista? Our waiters? Children? Service providers? Taxi drivers?

Journal: If you could go anywhere in the world for rest and respite, (if COVID did not exist and someone else was paying) where would you go? Why?

Closing: Listen to “Trust Me,” sung by Richard Smallwood And Vision

I will be with you
I will be with you
I will be with you
If you will only trust Me
Trust Me, trust Me

I’ll never leave you
I’ll never leave you
I’ll never leave you
If you will only trust Me
Trust Me, trust Me

I’ll fight your battle
I’ll fight your battle
I’ll fight your battle
If you will only trust Me
Trust Me, trust Me

I am that I am
I have all power
I will deliver
If you will only trust Me
Trust Me, trust Me

Prayer:
Dear God,
You are the God who gave us rivers, fields, trees, and hills. You painted beautiful scenery for us to reflect on as we rest. You created beautiful things. You gave us a mind to create beautiful things. Even here in the city, we can see beautiful things made by creative people.
We are all running so hard to keep up. There is so much pressure to be present for everyone, to take on many tasks, and to do so with a smile.
If we are in need of a nap, send rest to us. Remove the obstacles and empower us to rest. If we are in need of something to eat, send food to us. Make a way for good and healing nourishment to find its way to us.
We know that you will never deny us what we need. We thank You for Your provision and thoughtfulness. Help us to see rest and peace right where we are.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

WORKS CITED
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/simone-biles-aunt-died-tokyo-olympics-1234992577/

You might also enjoy