I’ve heard of people praying for rain, or for money, or for a soul mate. I’ve even heard of people praying for a parking space. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone praying for death. Maybe it happens more often than I think. It happens in today’s first reading. Elijah, exhausted and hungry, lays down to die. “This is enough, O Lord,” he says. “Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”While he is sleeping, an angel visits Elijah and brings him food and water and urges him to continue his journey. “Get up and eat,” the angel tells Elijah, “else the journey will be too long for you.” Elijah complies, and finds the strength to move on.I don’t know if you’ve ever been at that kind of point in your life, where you just wanted to give up on life. I haven’t, at least not to that degree. But I’ve certain been ready to give up on myself — to stop trying so hard to work, provide for myself and my family, to please all the people in my life, and to be so super-responsible for all that I feel that I must accomplish. Some days, the journey does seem too long.The journey can also seem to be too long in our social environment. Not only are we going through one of the worst economic cycles in the nation’s history, there seems to be another public atrocity around every corner. Penn State and Aurora, Colorado, for example. Sometimes it seems that the entire human race has given up our collective desire to love our neighbors.I can’t pretend to know why some people have to go through extreme darkness in their lives, and others don’t. I don’t know why some people get to the point where death looks more attractive than life. It is heartbreaking beyond measure. The good news for Elijah is that God sends him a messenger with what he will need to go on. Elijah is ready to give up, but God is not ready to give up on Elijah. This is good news for all of us as well. God does not give up on us. Maybe we need to look for those messengers in our own lives who, when we feel defeated, will bring us what need to be strengthened and restored. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells his followers that he is “the bread of life,” the ultimate source of spiritual nourishment in our lives. Perhaps we need to “get up and eat” more frequently of the bread that God gives us every day to remain strong and to complete our own journeys, even when it seems as though the road is too long. Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected]{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0810/peatman/{/gallery}