Overcoming Exhaustion

Exhaustion. It’s a subject we don’t talk enough about at the church - probably because it affects everyone in the church. With the utter absurdity of life’s fast pace, tired people are everywhere. Tired students trying to push hard to make the best grades. Tired adults from working two jobs just trying to make ends meet. Tired senior adults feeling the results of demanding more from their bodies over the past 70 years than anyone would ever imagine. It’s a crisis in our community. It’s a crisis within the church. 

 Exhaustion is a product of the Fall of Man. In Genesis, when Adam and Eve bit the apple, sin was born. With it, came the effects of sin:  loneliness, depression, doubt, and eventually mortality. An additional effect entered:  exhaustion. Moses struggled to hold up his exhausted arms in the Israelites’ battle against the Amalekites. David said, “I am weary with my crying, My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God.” In addition, Jeremiah battled with these same feelings and turned to God to strengthen him.

 As the pages of Scripture are turned, however, we meet Jesus, the Son of God.  Because He put on human flesh, Jesus experienced exhaustion as well. In the book of Mark, we find Jesus exhausted, much in need of rest – so much so we find Him sleeping during a violent storm. His boat was rocking, waves were crashing on either side, His twelve disciples were scampering, the wind was roaring, but Jesus was nowhere to be found. Why? Because Jesus is sleeping – resting and becoming rejuvenated. In Matthew 4, we see a different exhaustion in the temptation of Jesus. After Jesus had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was led into the wilderness to be tested. His physical body was weak from fasting.  Here, at His time of total exhaustion, the devil was waiting. Satan tempted Him three times. Jesus passed each test. Exhaustion opens the door for temptation. It lessens our physical strength to run, decreases our spiritual acumen for prayer, and destroys our mental guard for protection. 

 Jesus also shows us that resting does not always mean inactivity. Resting can also mean actively seeking to perform the Lord’s will in whatever doors God opens for us.  In the book of John, Jesus addresses an outcast – a Samaritan woman – as she is drawing water. He politely asks for a drink of water, as He was “wearied from His journey.” Jesus knew how to solve His problem:  water (sustenance) and rest. During this time of rest, Jesus told her all about Himself.

 Jesus knew firsthand that we would get physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. He teaches, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”   Learning from Jesus is the first answer to exhaustion.  He understands.  Secondly, follow His example in depending upon God through exhaustion. Jesus knows one of the devil’s ploys is to exhaust us through working so hard physically that we become ineffective spiritually. Third, allow God to renew your mind after your time of exhaustion. He can. He will, as Scripture tells us:  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may probe what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Allow God to transform you with His energy and strength.

 Draw strength from God’s Word. Paul encourages us to “not lose heart.” David looked to the Lord for help:  “But You, O Lord are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.” Allow God to minister and heal. 

 This summer, give yourself to Jesus - not to exhaustion. Protect your time. Get some rest. Enjoy the salvation of God. Renew yourself. Reinvigorate your walk with God. Overcome exhaustion by coming ever closer to Christ. 

Dr. Jeff Johnson