Since August, work had been wringing the life out of me, so I planned on writing about exhaustion. (It seemed appropriate.) Geesh. Last month’s exhaustion was nothing compared to these past three weeks.
Example: Last Friday through Sunday (just one weekend), I worked 32 hours. That would make sense if I was still working in the hospital. But doing medical writing? C’mon.
It wasn’t just the workload. There was undue pressure to produce perfection—in a vacuum suffused with criticism.
I thought about how exhausted David must have been while running from Saul for 13 years. And how many times did David fight the Philistines? Seven—with four in rapid succession. 2 Samuel 21:15 records: “When David and his men were in the thick of battle, David became weak and exhausted.”
Paul was a poster child for exhaustion—enduring beatings, lashings, stoning, a shipwreck, and death threats. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 records Paul’s exhaustion: “[when we were in Asia] We were under a burden far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, we felt we were under the sentence of death, in order that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God.”
I knew I should trust God, but that didn’t comfort me as it should have. Although my exhaustion was real, it didn’t seem … important.
Then God reminded me He doesn’t grade on a curve. Not for salvation, and not for suffering.
In her book Prevail, Susie Larson says, “Our feet tend to follow our gaze.” That’s especially true when our head hangs low from being overwhelmed. It skews our perspective. What can lift our head?
Here are six things God taught (or re-taught) me about exhaustion this month.
1. I’m exhausted. God is not.
Can I get an “amen” and “thank you, God” that He never wearies in anything He does?
“He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4, ESV).
2. I don’t have the strength to continue. God does.
We have physical limits. Jesus did, too, when He lived on earth. But now, glorified as part of the triune God, He is limitless in every way.
“God’s power is unlimited. He needs no teachers to guide or correct Him” (Job 36:22, CEV).
“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:5, NIV).
3. I can’t see past this challenge. God sees all of eternity at the same time.
If I could see down the road, I might give up or coast to a happy ending. Neither scenario would glorify God or give Him space in which to work His perfect will.
“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and ancient times from what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:9-10, BSB).
4. I can’t battle my enemies alone. God can.
When the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem, a Levite named Jahaziel stood in the middle of its city center and said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army, for the battle does not belong to you, but to God” (2 Chronicles 20:15, BSB).
5. God will give me the strength and endurance I need—if I ask.
My asking humbles me before God. It says I recognize His all-sufficiency in the face of my insufficiency.
“He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak” (Isaiah 40:29, GWT).
6. Whatever I fight won’t be a one-and-done thing.
Physical challenges contain a spiritual component because we are made in God’s image. Satan uses exhaustion, criticism, and more to convince us we’re overwhelmed, defeated, without help or hope. Every Christian is called to push back against that. The armor of God, described in Ephesians 6:11-17, lists five defensive weapons and one offensive weapon to make us “strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (vs. 10). The defensive weapons protect our vulnerabilities. We fight with our offensive weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (vs. 17). We can’t go wrong when we pray God’s Word back to Him. Nothing can best that!
Father, I pray for everyone who feels beaten down or overwhelmed today. Whether it’s from physical, relational, financial, emotional, or spiritual exhaustion, lift their heads. Show up big time for them. Infuse them with Your strength and endurance. Shore up their faith. Remind them that they are never alone. The battle is Yours. Through You, we can go from overwhelmed to overcoming. Let us sense in a tangible way that You are walking with us—and carrying us when needed. In Your powerful Name, amen.
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