Burnout: by Eddie Foster

Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

There are statistics on burnout.  What is it? A loss of enthusiasm, energy, perspective, and purpose in life. It can be mental, physical, or spiritual. Being physically tired and mentally tired are two different things, with mentally seeming worse. Stress is brought on by many things. We live in a stressful world; it’s not a kind world, especially not kind to Christians. Symptoms of stress show up in all areas of life.

Many people suffer from burnout. Do you realize that a pastor carries a load that no one else knows about. Many preachers suffer from burnout stress. Mental stress brings a sense of failure; we’ve all sensed this in life. Some react by doing nothing because they’re afraid to fail. It can bring anger, frustration and helplessness. These can lead to depression and bring backaches, headaches, insomnia, colds, digestive problems and allergies. In spiritual burnout people have a difficult time reading the Bible and praying. They read but don’t take it in. Prayer seems as if it goes no farther than the ceiling. What do you do?  Keep on reading and keep on praying. Don’t allow the devil to get you in a state of not reading and praying. 

Ecclesiastes 2:17 says Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Solomon wanted for nothing. He was wealthy and possessed great wisdom. He had the wisdom to discern which mother was the real mother when a baby died and both women claimed to be the mother of the remaining child. When he said to cut the baby in half and give each woman part, the true mother said no. She was willing to give the child to the other woman to save him. Solomon knew she was the real mother of the child.  Solomon also said Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.  For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? Emptiness. Vanity. This is how he saw life even though he had great wealth and wisdom.

There are causes of burnout. Unfilled expectations can. Elijah should have been on top of the world after his victory at Mount Carmel, yet he had a case of burnout. James 5:17 says Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. He was just like us. He had ups and downs. The Bible tells us not to boast of tomorrow. We don’t know what’s coming. Burnout can come after a crisis. Elijah prayed the three year drought would end. He outran chariots 20 miles to get down off the mountain before the rains came. He was not afraid of 450 prophets of Baal. But when Jezebel threatened to kill him, he ran for his life. Burnout. Instead of praising God he ran like a scared rabbit. Just as today in midst of riots, protests, and pandemic there is a remnant honoring God. The Lord told Elijah the same thing. When we say we’ve had all we can take, remember the Lord knows how much we can take. He’ll lighten the load if it’s too much. It’s possible to think God expects more than he does. He doesn’t expect out of us what he has not put in us. If there aren’t enough hours in the day, you’re trying to do too much. Seek balance in life. Communication is needed. Talk to someone even if you feel there is no one to talk to. Some won’t because they’re afraid the person they tell will tell someone else. If you’re a confidant of another person, keep it to yourself. Some have a lack of self honesty; they won’t acknowledge burnout. Others fail to get proper exercise, rest and nutrition.

God’s remedy for burnout?  He can do for us what he did for Elijah. At times we need to put things on hold and relax. Get away from things for a while.  God allowed Elijah to see HE was still in control. It’s not the president or government. It’s God who is in control. People need to wake up. God said he would never leave or forsake us. We have someone to walk with us. He allowed Elijah to express his negative feelings. God already knows it. He was understanding. He said hold on. He had people to take care of his enemies. God gave Elijah a new, lighter load. He gave him new tasks and a new friend in Elisha.

In every walk of life burnout can come, but remember this.  They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Trust in God.

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