February 9, 2016

Spiritual Exhaustion

Most pastors take Monday as their day off. Physical fatigue is part of it, but the biggest reason is spiritual exhaustion. This is an odd thing about serving others. It doesn’t matter if it is preaching, teaching, encouraging, working in a soup kitchen, giving time and other resources, leadership, or showing compassion, the actions of genuine biblical service are rooted in the Spirit of God but at the same time exhaust the human vehicle.

It happened to the disciples, even Jesus, but not as much for Him. He knew His source of supply and was often in prayer renewing His spiritual energy. The disciples had not yet learned the need for that, but they would.

As Chambers says, the process of being “broken bread and poured-out wine” means that I will be nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God themselves. For this, they will drain my spiritual energy and I must continually restore my supply or soon become utterly exhausted.

Sometimes the motivation for service can betray me. That is, if I serve others out of sympathy for them, or guilt, or just to get them off my back, I will wind up with no right to say — ‘Oh Lord, I am so exhausted.’ I might get tired, but it will not be the same fatigue that comes from serving God. Jesus saved and sanctified me so He could use me. I can be exhausted for God, but must remember that both motivation and supply come from Him.

Worship can also be a service, not to other though. This is for God. As in the Old Testament, singers and dancers alike will say, “All my springs are in you.” (Psalm 87:7) That is, every expression of devotion and joy is from the Lord.

Also, all spiritual fruit also comes from Him . . . “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3) And I have learned that fruit-bearing will make me feel drained, even though love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come from the Holy Spirit and not from me. (Galatians 5:22–23) I’ve also noticed that when Jesus invited people to come to Him that they might find rest, it was “rest for your souls” — He was not guaranteeing rest for our bodies.

Renewal of spiritual energy requires spending time with the Lord in His Word, but especially in prayer. Jesus went often to a place of prayer. So also have those known as the most energetic of His servants. Without prayer, I don’t know who to serve or how, much less have the energy to do it.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28–31)

Key here are the words “they who wait for the Lord” in which ‘waiting’ means to ‘eagerly look for in hope’ — something that cannot be done if I decide to renew my strength with a nap, or extra sleep, or anything else but spending time with hopes only source!

In these busy days of taking care of my hubby and trying to keep that to-do list short, fatigue comes easily. With a long list of responsibilities, renewal in prayer could easily slip to the bottom. However, it must not do that or I wind up wanting to sleep long hours and take several naps a day in an effort to battle fatigue, and wondering why those solutions do not work. My source of strength is Jesus. This does not mean that I can do without physical rest, but it does mean that if I neglect to draw my energy from Him, I will faint and be weary.

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