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Four Things to do When You Feel Like You’ve Had Enough {Printable}

Four Things to do When You Feel Like You’ve Had Enough {Printable}

What I learned from Elijah.

“I have had it. I’ve had enough. I’m done. I am just so done.”

Have any of you ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve even said those exact words.

Elijah felt that way. He’d had enough.  He had devoted his life to serving God and to loving God’s people, and now it all seemed to be falling apart. Elijah just wanted to be done with it all.  

Overwhelmed…exhausted…discouraged…unappreciated… DONE! Maybe you feel that way today. Well hang on… Don’t give up hope just yet. Elijah’s story might be just what you need to hear to help you keep going.

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Elijah was a prophet of God. Sometimes prophets were “seers”: they saw visions and foretold future events.  But mostly, prophets were mouthpieces for God.  They passed along messages they received from God. Sometimes the messages they delivered were not what people wanted to hear. God gave Elijah a not-so-pleasant message to deliver to King Ahab: He was sending a drought. It would not rain for the next few years unless Elijah said so. Way to get Elijah on King Ahab’s good side – not.

Ahab was King of Israel – the leader of God’s people. He had married Jezebel, a woman from the country of Tyre, to forge an alliance with them.  When Jezebel joined King Ahab in Israel, she didn’t come alone. She brought along her pagan gods and goddesses. She brought along her pagan prophets, and she fought to bring them equal status with the Hebrew God in Israel.

Elijah was already in the dog house with Ahab; this is where Elijah and Jezebel came into conflict.  God had sent Elijah to show Israel once and for all that Yahweh was the only true God. So Elijah challenged Jezebel’s 450 prophets of the Baal and 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah to a contest on Mt. Carmel.  

Baal’ meant ‘master’. The ‘baal’ or ‘master’ Jezebel worshiped was likely Melqart, the god of Tyre.

God defeated the prophets of Baal and in the end, Elijah had all Jezebel’s prophets put to death.  (To read about this epic battle, see 1 Kings 18.) Needless to say, Jezebel wasn’t very happy with Elijah, and she set out to kill him. So Elijah ran for his life.  

Have you ever felt like running? I can remember days when my kids were little that were really tough.

The toilet’s overflowing, one kid’s crying, one kid’s puking, dinner’s burning, the homework’s not done, the laundry’s not done, I’m un-done, and I just want to run.  

There were times that I thought, “If I got in the car and started driving, I wonder how far I could get before anyone noticed I was gone.” I never really would have gone, but I did fantasize about it once in awhile.

What makes you want to run? That crummy job? A chronic illness? A struggling marriage? Financial trouble? “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness.” (1 Kings 19:3-4a)

Step 1: RETREAT

Sometimes we really do need to get away from what’s going on around us – to take a break for a few minutes, for an hour, for a day. Mom’s with small children, have you ever gone into the bathroom and shut the door for a little longer than was necessary just so you could be alone for a few minutes? Sometimes we need to RETREAT for a little while: from the situation, from certain people, from outside activities and commitments. Jesus made it his habit to retreat. Luke 5:16 tells us that, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” He withdrew – or retreated – to quiet places where he could be alone for a while.

Elijah retreated, too.  He ran into the wilderness. Alone.

When life feels like it’s pressing in on all sides and crushing you, it’s OK to take time to RETREAT: to withdraw from the normal things of life and take a break. During a particularly difficult time in my life, I retreated for a while.  I stopped volunteering. I stopped taking on new responsibilities. I stopped spending time with certain people. I went to a different church – a very large church where I could be anonymous for a while. I needed a break. I needed time to heal.

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After travelling all day, Elijah sat down under a tree.  And he told God, “I have had enough!”  (1 Kings 19:4b) Enough of people ignoring him and the messages he delivered.  Enough of trying to help and not being appreciated for it. Enough of people blaming him for God’s judgment. Enough of being faithful and suffering for it.  Elijah was so used up and worn out, that he actually prayed that God would take his life.  He just wanted to be done with it all.

Ever felt like that?  Like you just wanted to be done with it all? I have.

About 15 years ago, my husband left me. I was devastated.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t sleep.  I could hardly breathe.  Life wasn’t going the way I expected. It was so hard; so painful.  I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I felt hopeless. I wanted to scream, “Lord, I’ve had enough!”  I wanted to be done, just like Elijah. But God didn’t allow Elijah to check out.  He didn’t allow me to check out either. And friends, God doesn’t want you to check out.

Instead, God offered Elijah refreshment, and he offers us the same thing.

Step 2: REFRESH

Rest. Food and sleep. Before God ever started to deal with the issues going on in Elijah’s life, he tended to Elijah’s physical needs. God created us physical beings. We can’t ignore our physical needs.  We need to rest. We need to nourish our bodies in order to be strong enough to cope with what life throws at us.

So Elijah ate and slept…and then he ate and slept some more.  (1 Kings 19:5-9)

Finally, Elijah was strong enough to go on with the rest of his journey. He traveled 40 days and 40 nights before he arrived at his destination. Notice that Elijah didn’t just go back home after he ate and slept. He was physically refreshed, but that wasn’t enough. You see, God created us spiritual beings, as well. Sometimes the weariness we feel goes far beyond just being tired.  It’s deeper than that. Our souls are weary. If we hope to be refreshed deep in our souls, then when we retreat, when we run, where we run matters.  At first glance, it looks like Elijah was just running away from his problems.  He was running for his life, but where he ran is significant.  

Elijah ran to Mt. Horeb (Horeb is the Hebrew name for what you may know as Mt. Sinai). Mt. Horeb was known as the Mountain of God: a place people would go to meet with God. It’s the same place where Moses met with God (Exodus 3:1).  This is where Elijah ran.  Elijah ran from the crisis, but he ran to God.  

Where do you run?

When the world is pressing in on you and you need to get away, where do you run? Maybe you run to the mall for a little retail therapy. Maybe you binge-watch your favorite show. Maybe you dive into a bucket of your favorite ice cream. There are lots of things we do to escape for a little while. Some are fairly harmless.  Some are more destructive… like pornography (yes, women can struggle with pornography but it’s more likely to be in print – like that steamy novel you like to read) or an affair or substance abuse. We try to put as much emotional distance as possible between us and the issue at hand. These things may offer a temporary escape, but they won’t give us what we truly need to go on: deep spiritual renewal. Jesus said,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

Jesus offers us a rest for our souls that nothing else can offer. We need to run to Jesus if we want that kind of rest.

So, I bet you’re wondering, what does it really look like to run to Jesus? I would like to suggest some practical things we can do:

  • Grab your bible. Spend time in God’s word.

Deuteronomy 8:3 tells us that we do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  This is spiritual nourishment. I can’t think of a better place to start when I need to be with God and feed my soul.  

Psalm 1 tells us that if we delight in God’s word and meditate on it regularly we are like trees planted by a riverbank; trees whose leaves never wither; trees that produce much fruit. Oh, how I want to be that tree planted by the river: Lush and green; my feet standing in the cool, refreshing, life-giving water – drinking it in!  Not wilting when the heat is on.  Never withering under pressure but instead making a contribution to God’s work.  

  • Get alone with God. Spend some time in His presence.

Just be. Like Martha’s sister Mary did. (See Luke 10:38-42.)

Sometimes it helps to have an actual physical place to go to do that. Elijah ran to Mt. Horeb to meet with God. Jesus went to lonely places to pray. King David hid in caves where he cried out to God. Where is your meeting place with God?  Where do you go to pray, to cry out, or to simply be in the presence of God? It could be your church. Maybe it’s at a retreat center where you can get away for a longer period of time. Maybe it’s a walk in the woods. Maybe it’s on your deck or at your kitchen table with a cup of coffee.

Or maybe it’s just those few minutes alone with the bathroom door shut. It doesn’t matter where you are.  It just needs to be someplace where you can be alone with God. God will meet you there.  

  • Pray. Have a conversation with God.

Throughout Scripture we see examples of people who ran to God in prayer. Paul. David. Moses. Jesus… I could go on and on.  They all had frequent conversations with God. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourages us to pray continually. Make it your habit – even on and off throughout the day – to have a conversation with God.

On the mountain, Elijah also had a conversation with God. In their conversation, the first thing God asked Elijah was, “What are you doing here?  Elijah, why are you here? ” (1 Kings 19:9) God’s question kind of sounds a little like God was scolding him.  “Elijah, what the heck are you doing here?”   But it was also an invitation.  God was inviting Elijah to unburden his heart; to pour out his troubles; to tell God what was going on in his life and what he needed. And Elijah did exactly that: He told God what was going on. Elijah told God he felt his efforts were futile. The people he so faithfully tried to help ignored him; they had rejected God and everything God had done for them. Elijah told God that all the other prophets were dead and he felt he was next. He told God that he felt completely alone. (1 Kings 19:10-14)

I want you to ask yourself today:

Why are you here?

God is inviting you to have a conversation with him; to unburden your heart; to tell him what is going on in your life and what you need.  Don’t be afraid to be honest with Him. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” And 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” God cares about you!  He cares about what you’re going through, no matter what it is, and he wants you to talk to him about it.  So run to him!  Tell him all about it.  

Step 3: REFOCUS

After God had allowed Elijah to pour out his heart, he helped Elijah shift his focus.  When we’re going through a difficult time, it’s hard to see anything else but the situation. This was Elijah’s problem. He was completely focused on the things he was struggling with. God helped Elijah take his eyes off the situation and focus instead on Him. Once God had Elijah’s attention, he was able to show Elijah that his life was not over and that he was not alone.

Where is your focus? 

Are you having trouble seeing anything but the issue that is pressing in on you? Click To Tweet If that’s where you are right now, will you allow God to turn your focus away from the heaviness of life and help you refocus on Him just as he helped Elijah refocus?

God wasn’t done with Elijah. God still had a purpose for him.  He told Elijah to go back the way he came, anoint two new kings and anoint Elisha as his successor.  (1 Kings 19:15-16) When my husband left, I really thought my life was over.  I felt like I was damaged goods. What good was I going to be to God or anyone else for that matter?  But like Elijah, I discovered that God wasn’t done with me.  Like Elijah, God still had a lot for me to do.  He still had a purpose for me.  And I have news for you…

God is not done with you either. He has purpose for you too.

Finally, God encouraged Elijah before sending him on his way. He assured Elijah that the wicked would ultimately not succeed. There would be justice. (1 Kings 19:17)

And he assured Elijah that he was not alone. In fact, he had never been alone. Remember, Elijah thought he was the only prophet left, the only faithful follower. God told Elijah that there were still 7,000 other faithful followers in Israel. (1 Kings 19:18)

Have you ever felt the way Elijah did? Like you’re all alone in your faith journey?  Like you’re the only Christian in your neighborhood or at your place of work or maybe in your family?  

I used to feel that way. I’d go about my business around town.  In a crowd, I’d imagine that I must be the only Christian there. But then I started going to Bible Study Fellowship.  I went to a BSF class that had over 400 women from many churches all over the cities attending. After a while, I started noticing women that I had seen in BSF around town: at the bank, at the grocery store, at the library… I suddenly felt like Elijah when those 7,000 faithful believers were revealed to him. I realized I was not alone in my faith. I didn’t even know their names, but I knew they were fellow Christ followers. It gave me comfort. It gave me confidence, and it helped me press on in my journey.

You are not alone in your faith either. If you attend a local church or a bible study or a small group, you’re part of a community of faith; but we’re all part of something much bigger than that.  We are a part of Christ’s church. We’re connected to a community of believers around the globe and part of a great company of believers who have gone before us.  Be encouraged. Be encouraged.

Step 4: RECOMMIT

At some point, we have to come back: Back to life. Back to the circumstances. Back to our families and our jobs and commitments. Elijah came back, but as a result of his time with God, he came back with a new sense of commitment to his calling and his mission.  Elijah had RECOMMITTED himself to doing all the things God had given him to do. He anointed kings.  He anointed Elisha as his successor and mentored him until it was time for him to leave. (1 Kings 19:19-21)

God is calling you to recommit: whether that’s daily recommitting to loving and raising your children, or committing to making it work with your spouse; or, making a new commitment to move forward after a major life crisis. God is calling you to recommit to the cause of Christ: to making disciples and building the kingdom.

GET A FREE PRINTABLE OF THESE STEPS HERE.

When life is pressing in on all sides and you feel like giving up, like running away…have hope. Remember the process that God took Elijah through: RETREAT, REFRESH, REFOCUS, RECOMMIT.

RETREAT. Remember it’s OK to retreat for a time. But remember not to just run away from your situation.  Run to God.

REFRESH. Take time to be refreshed physically and spiritually. Take care of your physical needs: eat, sleep…and take care of your spiritual needs as well. Spend time in God’s presence, pray, meditate on his word; and like that tree by the brook, you will flourish.

REFOCUS. Allow God to shift your focus. Take time to evaluate.  Where have you been?  Where are you now?  Where is God leading you next? Allow God to turn your focus away from your circumstances and toward the purposes he has for you.

RECOMMIT. Then, just like Elijah, recommit yourself to doing what it is that God has for you to do. Take action like Elijah did to accomplish that work.

God will meet you along the way, give you hope, and renew your strength – just as he did for Elijah; just like he did for me. 

Includes Printables to help you:
Walk Away From Worry with the Magic 5:1 Ratio 
4 Steps to take when You Feel Like You’ve Had Enough
2 Inspirational, Hope-Filled Printables to Frame
Download them for FREE here.


We all need hope. Let’s ponder it, explore it, and even run like mad for it – together.
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