In this season of uncertainty and unrest, I often find myself getting burnt out so easily from just doing simple, everyday tasks. Even if the workload might be a little more than usual—though nothing out of the ordinary—I still feel so overwhelmed and unmotivated that I struggle to finish the tasks in a timely manner. Even through all of this, I did not dare to give myself a break. I felt too ashamed to stop. What would people think of me if I took a break? I’d silently ask myself. What if they called me lazy? What if they think I’m not doing enough for my future/my church/my ministry? What if people start to think that I’m a failure? What if, what if, what if… My engine was sputtering forward in violent, hiccup-like increments, with fluids leaking and the gas tank running on empty. Still, I tried to move forward relentlessly despite the obvious signs telling me that I should stop, refuel, and rest.
For those of you who are experiencing this emotionally turbulent and spiritually draining season in your life, I have a question to ask: Aren’t you tired? Aren’t you tired of dragging onward even though your engine has overheated and your wheels are worn? Aren’t you tired of feeling exhausted before the day even begins? Aren’t you tired of trying to live up to the expectations of everyone else instead of living the abundant life that God had promised you? I know for certain that I am completely and utterly exhausted of living this way. Ever since I came back from my short vacation, there hasn’t been a day where I felt rested or at peace with myself.
I thought, Now that I’m back from having so much fun, it’s time to work and prove to people that I’m still capable. That was the source of the problem: I worked to prove my worth to people. Even as a believer of five years, I still contradicted what I’d preach to others and I worked to prove my worth, rather than being confident in what God already thinks of me.
With the constant voice of the enemy ringing in my ears, telling me that I’m unworthy, I pushed my hardest trying to find a job, trying to find my place in ministry, and trying to find my niche in life. I went job-hunting for hours per day, I made commitments I wasn’t sure I could keep, and I forced myself into every event that I could possibly have a role in. I did good things out of the wrong motivation, which soon proved to be unsustainable. I burnt out.
You can avoid all of this wreckage by stopping what you’re doing right now—really, STOP thinking about your next task, put that phone away, minimalize that tab, etc.—and say this prayer with me: Dear Heavenly Father, I commit all my cares and worries into your hands. Thank you for doing the impossible for me. Thank you for taking care of my eternal fate so that I don’t have to worry about my future any longer. I pray for your peace, which surpasses all understanding. I pray for your rest, which will refresh me like living water. I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone anymore because you’ve already proven to me that I’m worth your son. I can sleep at night not worrying about tomorrow because all the days are in your mighty hands. I can be at rest because I have you. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Believe those words you uttered. It is okay to put down your worries, your tasks, and your brilliant ideas for one day. Clear your table and clear your mind of the things that worry you or keep you up at night. Like Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Did you know that we were not made to work our hearts out until we die? This sad reality was a direct result of the Fall. We were not originally meant to toil nonstop until our last breath. These are cursed grounds, which means that none of our toils will ever bring us everlasting profit; but despite all of that, we are living in the era of Grace.
Now that we’ve already accepted Christ into our lives, shouldn’t we want to live out the holy lives that were intended for us? I think it’s about time that we learn to “let His kingdom come” into this particular area in our lives. Work as though you’re working for His kingdom, and then rest, because in God’s kingdom, every soul is at peace and at rest. There are no burnt out souls in God’s kingdom—He makes sure of it. That’s why He commanded us to rest! There is a magnificent quote that goes, “Rest is not inactivity, but a Holy Spirit directed activity.” Think about that for a minute. Doing the work of God also includes listening to Him when His spirit commands us to rest. Did you catch that paradox? To do His good work, you must also rest.
I went wrong the moment I started working hard to prove my worth to people, but I crashed and burned so quickly because I had also neglected to rest. I feared too much about what others would say about me. I had utterly forgotten the heart of the Psalmist, which says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8). I didn’t even allow myself to believe that “God gives rest to his loved ones” because I was too prideful to ask for His help (Psalm 127:2). I refused to even go seek wisdom from the Bible because I wanted to get out of this wreckage on my own. And then finally, on a particularly busy and exhausting night, all of the unrest caught up to me at once. The exhaustion hit me like a train. I laid in fetal position, soaking my tears into my pillow. I texted incoherent emotional texts to my loved ones. I even thought of getting ice cream because for a moment, I had blamed the emotional trauma on my irregular hormones. The physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual exhaustion was literally crippling me. Still, even then, I tried to reason with myself (that’s human nature for you). I thought, This shouldn’t be happening. I planned everything out in detail. If I could just move this interview to this day, and arrange this task on that day, and if I could just… I went on and on, wrestling with my own injured heart, until this phrase came to me: Aren’t you tired?
Yes, I was. But there’s no time to rest—
But aren’t you tired?
And the final, no-nonsense, honest-to-God answer was, “Yes. I’m so, so tired.”
That was when He began the healing process in me. I stopped crying, said a thank you prayer, and fell right asleep with the prayer still lingering in my mind. I knew that He was going to take care of me from then on.
In the morning, I felt more confident about not giving into my anxiety or dwelling too much on the tasks ahead. I was still physically tired, but I was not weighed down by the same daunting pressure as before. I felt very much like a child who had just gotten over a violent temper tantrum: puffy-eyed with a slight timbre of peacefulness, and arms clinging tightly onto my patient and loving Heavenly Father.
Looking back on the situation, it was as though He had warned me to rest before I even started, but like a child, I playfully ignored Him. While thinking that I could do it all on my own, I avoided Him at all costs. He, of course, was standing by the whole time, allowing me to learn the hard way, but making sure that I was still in His sight. When I finally burnt out, there He was—not condemning me, not saying, “I told you so,” but in a firm yet empathetic voice, He asked, “Aren’t you tired?”
I pray that today will be the day you humbly try to answer this same question. Life comes with the weight of expectations and tribulations, so it is understandable to be tired. However, you shouldn’t let those expectations and tribulations run your life. Those things will run you to the ground! Instead of fueling yourself with lies, busyness, and pride, just come to Him and rest. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). If you’re weary and need to find a way out, your answer is right there: come to Jesus. Come, lay down your burdens and let loose your heavy baggage. Come, and find rest.
A song to meditate on: