1 Kings 19:4-8 (NRSV)
Verse 4But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors." Verse 5Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, "Get up and eat." Verse 6He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. Verse 7The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, "Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you." Verse 8He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
Elijah is physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. He has no hope left to lean on. Then, suddenly an angel touches him and gives him food and drink. That sense of touch is critical in this instance. Whether it is the intimacy of contact or company—the touch changed everything for Elijah.
Our faith communities often provide the same comfort for us. I was at a funeral this week, and noticed how human-to-human touch was healing for a grieving spouse. She almost melted into the arms of each person who came through the visitation line. The tearful embrace was the only thing keeping her upright. These days, when “love languages” are colloquial, we understand that physical touch is not for everyone. But a simple show of presence can be lifegiving.
Surround yourselves with people who are there to hold you and sit with you when you are exhausted.
God, we are grateful for the gift of presence—your holy presence and the holy presence of those who love us. Amen.