Please note: this article talks about the type of fatigue that is a direct result of lack of sleep and is determined by lifestyle.* Yet, however you may be experiencing fatigue, take heart that the hope in Christ remains.
I recently heard on radio an ad featuring a young woman who is really happy to find out she is iron deficient. The joy does not stem from being iron deficient, of course, but from finding out that there is a reason explaining her constant fatigue. With this newfound knowledge, the woman can seek the help she needs. You guessed it! It was an ad for iron tablets. Correct diagnosis can bring relief if there is an acute solution available. And yet when it comes to our spiritual health, I suspect some of us live blissfully unaware until we seriously fall or burn out.
Correct diagnosis can bring relief if there is an acute solution available. And yet when it comes to our spiritual health, I suspect some of us live blissfully unaware until we seriously fall or burn out.
Young workers often ask me for practical advice along these lines:
- How can I manage my time better so I’m not tired all the time?
- How much time should I spend for devotion each day?
- Should I take up extra study/find a new job/pursue that promotion?
- How much sleep is enough?
Sometimes, these questions come from a genuine desire to worship God in all areas of life—the sort of thing Paul is talking about in Romans 12:1-2. But sometimes they indicate something else. Sometimes these questions come from the strain of attempting to serve God and something else—the “two masters” that Jesus says can’t be served at once:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24).
Getting to the Roots of Fatigue
Figuring out what it is that is consuming the time, energy and space in our hearts requires honest reflection. Here are ways to ask the same questions that might help us see what’s really going on…
How can I manage my time better so I’m not tired all the time?
What is currently taking up my time? What desires are driving my devotion to these activities and/or people?
How much time should I spend for devotion each day?
What is making it hard for me to setting aside time for God?
Should I take up extra study/find a new job/pursue that promotion?
Am I considering these decisions from an eternal perspective or am I hoping they will satisfy me in ways which Jesus cannot?
How much sleep is enough?
Have I seriously considered the way God has designed me and sought to worship him by resting an appropriate amount?
Freedom to be Honest
These questions are helpful, not just for young workers, but for all who work for the glory of God. As I apply these questions to myself, I realise that I am free to be brutally honest because my salvation is secure in Christ.
I realise that my calendar can reveal my desire to seek comfort, security and identity in my job. I realise that my inability to say ‘no’ to others can reveal a desire to build my self worth on the approval of others. I too, am prone to wander, lusting after what the world offers me (1 Peter 2:11) and forgetting God’s good promise that he satisfies all our needs in Jesus (Philippians 4:19). What I need first, above all else, is not a better timetable, an accountability partner or a mindfulness app—my greatest need is Jesus.
What I need first, above all else, is not a better timetable, an accountability partner or a mindfulness app—my greatest need is Jesus.
In his book Under Pressure, Andrew Laird summarises it well with a quote from Augustine:
Christian theologian Augustine famously wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Our restless, dissatisfied hearts will never be satisfied by having it all, yet we put ourselves under enormous pressure trying to “gain the world.” Our hearts will only ever find rest, contentment, and satisfaction in the one who made us—the all satisfying God.”
Just as an iron deficiency can account for a persistent tiredness, so there are sometimes hidden spiritual roots to our frustrations and fatigue. Understanding that our fatigue may be the result of a spiritual problem can help us run to the solution quicker. When you feel overwhelmed, tired and worked to the bone, go to Jesus. In Christ, we find our true identity and inherent worth as God’s children (John 1:12). In Christ, we have one who has claimed victory over sin and death at the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). In Christ, we have a way to enjoy God’s eternal blessing and rest (Matthew 11:28).
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
* I’d like to acknowledge that there are instances where fatigue is abnormal, prolonged, and where no amount of rest can resolve. There are proper medical diagnoses for such conditions (e.g. iron deficiency, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and good reason to consult with medical professionals. Assuming that all fatigue is the same can be especially damaging to those who live with conditions such as CFS.
Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash This post first published by https://lifeatwork.org.au