I’ve been exhausted physically, after a sleepless night. I’ve been tapped out emotionally, when everything is going wrong. And I’ve been mentally drained by difficult circumstances.
But when all three happen or any one of them seems unending, it can lead to soul burnout. A nap won’t help. A comedy won’t make us feel better. And thinking positive won’t change a thing.
The cure? Soul rest.
Sounds blissful, doesn’t it? But how exactly do we get there?
So much of what happens is beyond our control. We can’t change the circumstances or the people. Yet oftentimes we expend a large amount of energy in trying to, emptying ourselves of any reserves there might be left.
Letting go is one of the hardest things to do, especially for perfectionists (like me). I think there’s a couple of reasons why this is so hard. One is that it feels like we’re giving up…we’ve accepted defeat. The other reason is that we’re putting more stock in our ability than God’s…we think we know a better way.
True surrender is accepting that we don’t know what to do but God does. Surrender is recognizing that victory can only come through Him. And it’s coming to the realization that although we may not understand why things are happening, God remains in full control.
The noise of this world can easily drown out the solitude our soul needs. This includes not only the devices and activities that suck us in but the thoughts that cloud our mind. I do a fairly good job at letting things go…unless it involves those closest to me. Then I tend to do the “worst-case-scenario” in my head. Or I get caught up with my emotions, anger when they’ve been hurt or worry over their circumstances.
Seeking quiet may require a setting aside of those devices and activities. But it also means taking captive our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5). Although we can’t completely control our thoughts, we can choose to not dwell on them. When we mull something over in our mind, we’re likely to go places we’d otherwise not go. Even righteous anger can turn an ugly direction if we fail to reign in our thoughts.
Another way we can take captive our thoughts is by refusing to react. Reactions are usually knee-jerk and come from the flesh. Prayer is more likely to produce a godly response. This requires getting quiet before God. The more time spent with Him and in His Word, the less noisy this world becomes.
When our souls are weary, sometimes the last thing we think about is reading God’s Word or even going to church. Prayer feels useless. Keep pursuing God. Even if you’re not “feeling it,” don’t give up. It might not feel like He’s there or that He’s listening. Yet it’s when God feels the furthest that He’s actually the closest and doing the most work in your life.
Some of my most victorious moments have come after a long time of what appeared to be silence from God. It only made me more aware (and amazed) of God’s power to work in and through a situation.
If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do is enlist help. I tend to isolate myself when I’m struggling, which is the very worst thing you can do. But soul rest isn’t a solo sport. It’s important to ask others for help, whether it’s in a tangible way or just to have a listening ear. At the very least, ask those who are trustworthy for prayer.
There was a long period of time in which I experienced soul burnout on my own. I didn’t turn to anyone. It was incredibly painful and lonely. Then a friend invited me to attend a Bible study group. From the first moment I sat with those ladies, I felt welcomed. And it didn’t take long before I felt loved and truly cared for through their prayers, words of support and encouragement. Without their help, I don’t know how I would have made it through.
Soul rest is the cure for burnout.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him (Psalm 62