August 30 is National Heroes Day in the Philippines. We honor those who gave their lives so that freedom and independence will be achieved by our country.
In the Bible, Elijah is considered as one of the great heroes in the Old Testament, and in the history of Israel. There is a statue of him at the top of Mt. Carmel with a sword in his hand. He is famous in defying the evil King Ahab and evil queen Jezebel. He was fed by God through birds. He also sought refuge in the house of a widow with her son. God miraculously gave them food every day. The pinnacle of his career could be his battle against the priests of Baal. God rained fire on the sacrifice of Elijah. Baal was declared a god that has no power, and the priests were eventually killed.
There is one story that is oftentimes missed in the life of Elijah. This is the story of his exhaustion, and mental health struggles.
1 Kings 19:4 says, “while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, 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.”
What can we learn from this event in the life of Elijah?
First, it is beneficial to take a break and rest.
Do you know what God did? Did God talk to him immediately? No. God let him fall asleep.
Sleeping is very important to our mental health. We need to find the time to nap, and to have an adequate rest every night. Research says that sleeping during day time do not have the same healthy effect to our bodies as compared to sleeping during nighttime. So, let us remember to take a break and rest.
Second, it is important to have a healthy diet.
After Elijah woke up, the angel of God gave him something to eat and drink. He then rested again. After that, the angel told him to eat again.
Due to our busyness, we sometimes neglect to eat healthy food. Research tells us that most of our diseases are lifestyle diseases. This means that our diseases is directly connected to what we eat. So, let us watch what we eat, and choose to have a healthy diet.
Third, it is essential to reflect and talk to God.
Elijah traveled to Mount Horeb to talk to God. God talked to him in a “still small voice.” In that conversation, God gave Elijah a new mission. He was to appoint Hazael as King over Aram, and Jehu as King over Israel. He did that. He also appointed Elisha as the next prophet.
When we talk to God, we are refreshed and renewed. We are also given a new mission in life. A person who has a purpose has a healthier mental health than a person who does not know what to do next.
As we celebrate National Heroes Day, let us remember Elijah and how God helped this hero in his mental struggles.
May God bless us all!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
August 30, 2021