It’s said with a sort of singsong, matter-of-fact, “no-biggie” kind of tone.
“I’m just tired.”
How many people have you heard share this reflection with you this week? Are you adding yourself to that number?
Frankly, the expression of being tired is not a surprise in our schools. The end of the first grading period is about to occur. The weather is starting to reflect the change in seasons and daylight hours are decreasing. The frantic start of the year has taken its toll. The effects of COVID have borne plenty of angst and frustration to start the year....even as teachers, administrators, parents and students all optimistically began the school year thinking we had made it through the most trying, exhausting year of our lives.
“I’m just tired.”
It’s a simple sentence but it really doesn’t do justice to what this tired feels like. This tired is a numbing tired. It’s a fishbowl effect- that feeling that causes all senses to be dulled.
It’s a tired that makes life a bit more anxious. It makes a late phone call, an unexpected schedule change, a little sniffle or lost set of keys turn into a match that lights off a powder keg of explosive emotion.
It’s a tired that makes thinking impossible. What normally takes 2 hours now takes 8 and it still doesn’t get done, or done well. Those original, creative solutions just don’t seem to be rising to awareness. A classroom of students may simply stare at the teacher at an instruction to get a book out for the next class period. Their lack of action isn’t due to defiance. The students are just tired.
So what are we to do? Typical feelings of tired need a couple of good nights’ sleep and the remedy is provided but this tired is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
The prophet Elijah illustrates for us what many are feeling. This kind of tired can trigger the fight or flight mechanism in our brain and flight seems to be a pretty common solution these days. Elijah understood. The writer of 1 Kings describes Elijah dealing with outright unbelief and antagonism toward God. Elijah considers the particular situation- 450 Baal prophets vs himself as God’s representative. He heard no commitment of following God from the Israelites but plenty of braggart words and actions from the followers of Baal. Ultimately, it took fire from heaven consuming the offerings of the altars of the Baal prophets and Elijah’s water-soaked altar for the people to drop their knees and cry, ““The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
Elijah had been faithful. He trusted God. God delivered. But when evil Queen Jezebel heard about what all had happened, she made it known that Elijah was a marked man with death as the goal. Elijah runs for his life and retreats to the wilderness. There he pleads with God to end his life.
I hope you’re not to the same point as Elijah! Obviously he was more than just tired. His fatigue was physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. He was tanked!
But it does sound a bit familiar, doesn’t it? Last school year was a bit of 1 Kings 18. All involved in Lutheran education faithfully and with great energy led students through a tremendous battle. It was diabolical in many ways but the end of the month of May found all involved relieved and reminded that God is indeed our refuge and strength and he carried us through a time of trouble.
HOWEVER, our optimism of the 21/22 school year was met with a Jezebelish attempt to squash our lives. Covid19 ticked up. Filling out staffing was a major struggle. Even now, everyone seems a bit more needy. And the needs of the Indiana Department of Education didn’t make for smiles and giggles for administrators and their assistants. Maybe it's a bit dramatic, but the “I’m just tired” feels a lot like Elijah’s words of, “It’s enough” and a crying of “I just can’t go on.”
I Kings 19 has some great words of encouragement as God cares for the tired Elijah, His prophet. The words are appropriate for us too as God cares for us now.
+“Arise and eat.” While for some the past months have caused a bit of weight gain, these words from God remind us to physically take care of ourselves. It’s what health professionals and physical trainers all preach- drink lots of water (that’s for body functions to work well and for the brain to be at its best), eat for health not for leisure (a good breakfast with protein to start the day, a balanced food plan throughout the day and stay away from all the sugar!), and exercise (get out and move).
+Sleep/rest. 8 hours of sleep is still the best for the body to recover, for the brain to cycle through the events of the day and for overall physical health. But sooooooo many bad habits have been gained in the past months. It’s time to heed our God’s prescription and get some rest.
+Listen to the Word of the Lord. Churches worked hard to meet the state’s mandates during the shutdown. However, the spiritual effects have been daunting. Many people have found that the need to gather to receive God’s gifts can be comfortably received at a convenient watching of a live streamed service or recorded version of worship. However, we need to be together (Hebrews 10:25 gives this encouragement). We need to taste and see that the Lord is good as we hear and sing His Words and as we receive His gift of forgiveness. God created us for community and the fellowship of believers is needed to experience a greater definition of “We’re in this together.”
In the weeks to come, TLSP will give a valiant attempt to exercise these examples from Scripture and make some practical applications for our schools’ administrators, teachers, staff, and students. Please pray for this effort and consider how you will jump in to help. The closing verses of 1 Kings 19 find Elijah getting some new found help from Elisha. I wonder who our Elishas will be?