But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. I Kings 19:4-8 ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3 ESV
In the Middle Ages, travel was often dangerous, and there wasn’t always a good or safe place for people to rest when they were out on a journey. But one place that would always welcome people was a monastery. The monks who lived in monasteries believed it was their sacred duty to provide a safe place and food and a bed to travelers. One famous monastery that provided rest for travelers was St. Bernard’s monastery in the Alps. This monastery was on a pass that was 8000 feet above sea level, and only free of snow for a couple of months during the summer. St. Bernard’s gave an important resting place for travelers trying to travel across this dangerous pass. It was at this monastery that St. Bernard dogs became very important. These dogs were good at guiding people through the snow, breaking the snow with their low, broad chests, and also, because of their keen sense of smell, rescuing people who were lost.
Elijah was traveling alone, lost in fear and discouragement, but he soon found that God hadn’t left him alone. God sent an angel to give him food and water so that he could rest and have strength to travel. The gifts God gave Elijah gave him the strength to continue his journey into the wilderness, where he would meet God and get directions to continue his work as God’s prophet. But before Elijah was ready to hear the voice of God, he needed rest and strength.
We also get tired and discouraged on our journey of life. We wonder why things happen the way they do, or if God is with us or really cares about us. God doesn’t leave us alone when we are tired and discouraged. He comes to us through his word, the Bible, to give us comfort and strength to continue to follow his way. We know that God will never leave us alone, because he sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus followed the journey his heavenly Father had sent him on, a journey that took him to the cross to die for us. Because Jesus took that journey for us, we know that he will never leave us alone as we travel through life.
Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us and for staying with us all through our lives. Amen.