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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Signs That I’m Emotionally Exhausted and What To Do

In review of 1 Kings 19:3-4, it says, “Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died’” (1 Kings 19:3-4 NLT).

Today's passage is from 1 Kings 19:3-4. In it I read that Elijah experienced the depths of fatigue and discouragement just after his two great spiritual victories: the defeat of the prophets of Baal and the answered prayer for rain. What I'm learning is that often discouragement can set in after great spiritual experiences, especially those requiring physical effort or involving great emotion. When I feel let down after a great spiritual experience, remember that God's purpose for my life is not yet over, I still have work to do.

Everyone goes through times where their emotional tanks are empty, even great heroes of the Bible. Consider the experience of Elijah, one of the most important prophets in the history of Israel. After a highlight of his ministry, he went toe-to-toe with a pagan prophet and won, he got a death threat from the queen and began a downward spiral of emotional exhaustion. First Kings 19:3-4 describes what Elijah did next.

Elijah’s experience gives me 10 indications of emotional exhaustion. I need to keep my eyes open for these issues in my own life and the lives of those around me. Here are 10 signs of emotional exhaustion from this part of Elijah’s life.

. Fear creeps into your life.
. You find yourself running away from things.
. You back out of relationships.
. You make foolish decisions impulsively.
. You push yourself past your physical limits.
. Your work seems pointless.
. You complain that you want to quit and give up.
. You feel isolated and attacked.
. You compare yourself to others and feel bad about yourself.
. You even think death might bring relief.

If I see some of these characteristics in my life right now, I’m likely emotionally exhausted or experiencing burnout. I may even be depressed.

But there is hope. When Elijah faced that experience, God led him to do Three things that helped him recover, and they’re things that can help me recover, as well.

First, rest your body. In the world’s most famous psalm, the Bible says of God, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2 NIV). Sometimes God must make me lie down because I’m unwilling to do it on my own. I can’t be spiritually and emotionally strong while I’m physically depleted.

That’s what happened to Elijah. God did not scold Elijah. God didn’t say, “Come on, man. You’re just having a pity party.” He simply let Elijah sleep. The Bible says about Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5, “Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep” (NIV). Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do when you’re emotionally exhausted is to take a nap.

Second, release my frustrations. Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing. In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah says this to God: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (NIV). Elijah didn’t hold anything back. He didn’t filter his feelings. He told God his frustrations.

Here’s the point I shouldn’t miss about this verse. God isn’t shocked when I complain to him. He’ll listen to me until I run out of words. So let them all out. God can handle anything I throw at him.

Thirdly, remember and refocus on God. When I’m emotionally exhausted and nearing burnout, I need to remember what God says and who he is. When I do that, I shift my eyes away from my problems and toward Jesus. I get a fresh awareness of God’s power and God’s presence and God’s personality. I need to see that far more than I need to see my problems.

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God demonstrated his power firsthand to Elijah. The Lord showed him who was in control. When I’m struggling through burnout, it’s often because I’m trying to play God and control everything. When I refocus on God, I realize he is in control. I can stop exerting my own control.

So when I’m feeling burned out and emotionally exhausted, God hasn’t forgotten me. Just like God did with Elijah, God stands ready and willing to help.

In summary, discouragement can set in after great spiritual experiences. When I feel let down I need to remember that God's purpose for my life is not yet over. He still have work for me to do. Signs of emotional exhaustion are: fear, wanting to run away, backing away from relationships, making foolish decisions, pushing beyond physical limits, work seems pointless, complaining and wanting to give up, feeling isolated and attacked, comparison to others and feeling bad about self, thinking even death might bring relief. There is hope. There are 3 things: rest, release your frustration and to remember and refocus on Jesus (take the focus off self.) Also don't try to control everything, realize that God is in control.

This morning Father as I read your word and the devotional I’m studying I really see you speaking to me about my current work situations. I’ve gone through those signs of emotional stress. The key for me is to rest, let out my feelings, and then refocus my eyes on you. Instead of being hurt and feeling slighted, I need to focus on what I can do to help the situation and make it work.

I pray this morning Father for your help, wisdom and guidance in the tasks I need to do. I shouldn’t just dig in and feel hopeless, but look to see what I can do to make things work out and be of assistance. These things I ask in your Son Jesus name, amen.