One of the problems that happens when we are overwhelmed and exhausted is that we lose perspective on life. We become so burdened and weighed down by our present circumstances that we cannot see where we are any longer. God asked Elijah a simple question. His question is one we need to ask when we get this way. “What are you doing here, Elijah,” God posed to his exhausted servant. What is fascinating is that God asked this question twice. Elijah spoke of his great zeal for God—Israel’s great sin and unfaithfulness to God—of Israel’s rejection of every prophet sent to them—and finally of the fact that now they are seeking to kill him too. This was Elijah’s answer to God both times he was asked the same question. Notice anything about these answers? Let me help you if you’ve missed it. Neither of them answered what God was asking. God wasn’t asking Elijah what he had been through recently—but why he was where he was now. Elijah answered both times with the circumstances that were overwhelming him. Let’s look at how this should instruct us.
Elijah was focused on what had happened in the past—not on where it was landing him right now. That is a sign of someone who is overwhelmed. They cannot see past what has happened—to where they are now. Elijah’s answer is telling though. Where he was had to do with what he thought about God. He was zealous—He addressed Israel’s unfaithfulness—He was persecuted—and He was facing death threats. Notice something about this answer. It was all about what HE had done—and—how God was not coming through like He should be based on what Elijah was doing. One of the reasons we get overwhelmed is because our “expectations” are not being met the way we think they should be. Part of our problem is that we have entered into strong labor—exhausting labor—even labor in obedience to God—but we have entered into it with expectations of what God should do because we are laboring. What happens to us when God does not come through with OUR expected results? Often we get seriously stressed out. Most think that maybe they just need to work harder, which does not help our stress level at all. Each time God does not come through with the expected results we get even more stressed. Finally, we snap and wind up under a tree or on a mountain side having God ask us what we are doing there (well, actually that was Elijah—but we have our places too, don’t we).
Here is God’s wisdom for us. We are servants—and we serve as our Lord has commanded. We serve in faith desiring good results. We labor in the strength He provides—hoping for an outcome. But we labor leaving the results up to Him—even if they are not what we want—or they don’t come as soon as we think they should. If we do not take this view . . . we will end up with unmet expectations that stress us out. But our stress is not due to what God has commanded. It is due to our unmet expectations. Lay down the expectations and serve Him without them—and you will be amazed at how your stress level—your exhaustion and overwhelmed level will drop.