“I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” Daniel 8:27 NIV
Thinking I would be too tired today to write another entry (I write two on a Saturday so that I don’t have to work on the Sabbath), I thought I may as well use that and ponder exhaustion. I’m very familiar, thanks to my chronic illness, with physical and mental exhaustion and the emotional lability that comes with it. But in this verse, Daniel is suffering from yet another kind of being wiped out. He has vision fatigue. My diagnosis is spiritual exhaustion.
I’ve noticed that, even in my own small way as a mystic, with the revelations, pictures and words that the Lord gives me, or the intercessions that he asks me to make, that exhaustion or feeling very ill often follows. The same is true of any spiritual ecstasies. If we pay attention in our reading, we see that this is something that all men and women of God have experienced. It is almost as though we have to pay for the high with a low. Hildegard of Bingen suffered bouts of illness after visions, as did Teresa of Avila, and in the Old Testament we see this here with Daniel and also perhaps most dramatically with Elijah. After the great prophet has dealt with the priests of Baal with immense faith and energy, he is floored by a death threat and runs for his life, ending up completely exhausted and full of woes to the point of being suicidal.
The Lord’s response to this is encouraging, for he does not berate Elijah, and he continues to favour Daniel, as he did both these female doctors of the church. God understands what his faithful devoted servants suffer, and they are always allowed time to rest and recover from what they have done or received in his service. Elijah is brought cake and water by angels, and told he must recover his strength “for the journey.” It might have seemed an odd thing for God to tell him that there was more to do, but I think knowing that more purpose awaited him was helpful and motivation to this man of God laid so low. To know God has never finished with us is a great boon, and to know that it is okay to stop and recover ourselves, and that the exhaustion is normal, is also a big help.
Sabbath is all about this of course, and so Sunday for Christians and Friday sundown through to Saturday sundown for Jews is a sacred time for all, but perhaps especially for those of us who are worn out. Rest is part of God’s creation too, and he set us a great example in sitting back and enjoying his handiwork on the seventh day. If the Lord and his greatest prophets all needed a break, you can guarantee that the rest of us do too. If nothing else, we need time to step back from all we are doing in the week and evaluate what is good as well as letting the visions settle and mature before they run off with us.
Not sure where the photo is from – will come back and rectify this later 🙂