How many of us have walked through seasons when we’re burned out? I have loved ones in that place as I write this. Okay, and I may be there as well.
So much life has happened this year. The death of a loved one. Work pressure and obstacles to getting the job done. Kids who rebel as they try to figure out what it means to become an adult. Caring for aging parents.
When life pulls us—our hearts, spirits, souls, bodies—in many directions, we can burn out. We’re human, not God.
Recently, I read through Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18. What resonated is how, though he followed hard after God, Elijah still became worn down.
When God called Elijah to tell Ahab about the drought, as soon as he delivered the message, Elijah ran from the wicked king. Remaining in Israel would have meant death. Instead, Elijah spent three-and-a-half years wandering. He lived in the desert and was fed by ravens. Later, he dwelt with the widow of Zarephath.
Three-and-a-half years is a long time to be on the run, disconnected from loved ones. It’s a long time to not have a roof over your head and a bed to lie in each night. A long time to live without the security of food and water and safety.
And yet, Elijah trusted God to provide for him. And God did just that. When God instructed Elijah to tell Ahab rain was coming, Elijah wasn’t “home” for long. He challenged Jezebel’s priests to a sacrifice contest. Their “gods” didn’t answer, but Elijah’s God—Israel’s God—answered decisively (link to 1 Kings 18).
Then Jezebel made a death threat on Elijah’s life, and fear put speed to Elijah’s feet and heart.
By the time he stopped to rest under a broom tree in the middle of NOWHERE, he asked God to let him die. I used to be upset by this prayer. Now, I better understand his complete depletion. He had nothing left.
Though God understood the why’s of Elijah’s prayer, He didn’t acquiesce. He refreshed His servant and called Elijah back to the business of living.Refresh: 4 How To's for Recovering When We're Burned Out—Though God understood the why’s of Elijah’s prayer, He didn’t acquiesce. He refreshed His servant and called Elijah back to the business of living. #tellhisstory #burnedout… Click To Tweet
We all come to these places in our lives where we’re done in. Life has stolen everything we have to offer.
We’re tired. Drained. Shredded.
Four Strategies for When We’re Burned Out
Find a Place to Rest.
Whether that means getting away for a little while, or opening up our schedules, even for a couple of hours, our souls need space to breathe.
Being still before the Lord can be the hardest thing, but it’s also necessary. When we’re to the place of being completely burned out, we must step back from all that’s draining us and breathe.
When we invite God into our weariness, He can begin the refreshing process. We need to get real with God. Elijah asked God to let him die. God is big enough to handle our honesty.
Though our emotions shouldn’t guide our decisions and the ways we respond to life, they do need to be acknowledged. God heard Elijah’s words. He allowed Elijah to sit in that dark place. I can almost picture God sitting right there with him, waiting for Elijah’s heart to be ready for God’s next words.
Refreshing begins when we offer ourselves an opportunity to rest. Chances are good if we’re worn down, we need to spend some time remembering truths in God’s word. We need a change in our mindsets, and God’s word will give that to us.
God’s Response When We’re Burned Out
When we’re burned out, our perspectives will be skewed. We need time away to recalibrate our hearts and our thoughts.
God’s next words were a question. “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
What an invitation He offered Elijah! Sometimes, we need to ask this same question,
. . . to evaluate what has led us to this point,
. . . what our motivations have been,
. . . what our thoughts and perceptions are.
God invited Elijah to bare his heart and be vulnerable with the One who loved him. And though Elijah’s words don’t seem to be an exact answer to the question, “What are you doing here?” It reveals what was on his heart.
When we’re worn down and our emotions become ragged, we need to run . . . to the One who knows us best and loves us anyway. We need to remember we aren’t meant to perpetually push forward.Refresh: 4 How To's for Recovering When We're Burned Out—When we’re worn down and our emotions become ragged, we need to run . . . to the One who knows us best and loves us anyway #tellhisstory #burnedout #refresh Click To Tweet
Is life sometimes hard? Yes. Do circumstances sometimes overwhelm? Definitely. But God never intends us to press on in our own strength indefinitely. Let’s acknowledge when we are worn and bring our tired selves to the Lord for refreshment.
What about you? What has helped you when you are worn down in every way? Do you have a Bible verse that refreshes you when you’re burned out?