There is a response that God may give when we cry out for help that is, to me, one of the most tender answers we can ever hear. It is, “YES, BUT REST.”
This is the answer he gave to Elijah after the victory at Mount Carmel. Queen Jezebel vowed to kill Elijah when she heard how the priests of Baal had been put to death. Here is how the story unfolds in I Kings 19:
“Elijah was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.” Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.”
God knew that Elijah’s real need was for new strength and courage. So God gave this answer: “Yes, but rest.” He gave Elijah time to sleep. He brought him food. He comforted him.
This story reminds us of how gentle and tender and loving God is. He knows all our needs. He hears the cry of our heart when we can do no more than whimper. And if what we need is rest, he gives that. Then, with a quieter heart, we can go on to hear the rest of his answer – to be strengthened and encouraged, as Elijah was on the mountain when God came in the wind and the fire and the still, small voice.
Sometimes we fight against the rest that God calls us to. We are so anxious and tense and wound up inside that when we hear him say, “Put it all down. Rest for a while. Trust me, I’ll take care of it,” that we resist. We insist upon trying to handle it all. And we miss his rest, and, in missing his rest, we miss his healing touch that we so desperately crave.
So if you hear God telling you to rest – to put away all the technology, to cancel some meetings or appointments, to let the housework go for a few days, to take a quiet walk or make a cup of tea and drink it while doing absolutely nothing – listen. Rest is a gift from God, and it is often necessary before we can take the next step toward the healing of our hearts.