This week has been one of those weeks. Maybe it’s one of those weeks for you, too. You know, one of those weeks where starting the day can feel like stepping on a treadmill of a never ending to-do list. Around and around you go, and progress seems like a distant concept! It’s tiring, right? To always be working on something, always conquering the next task… always doing… is exhausting! Any other tired sisters out there?
Benjamin Franklin once said, “He who can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.” Hmm. Taking a rest is greater than taking cities?
Do you know why he compares the ability to rest with world domination? Because both require discipline! We must discipline ourselves to rest… emotionally, mentally, and physically. We set ourselves up for failure and tread the dangerous path leading to burn out when we don’t take time for rest.
Researchers define burnout as, “A state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” (Ayala Pines & Elliott Aronson) We are all involved in emotionally demanding situations. For some of us, it’s our ministries or jobs. For others of us, it’s family responsibilities. For some, it might be all of the above!
Burn out doesn’t occur just because your life has demands that you resent or dread. Oh no, even good things you enjoy can be emotionally demanding. If those emotional demands last a long time though, without a rest now and then, burn out is inevitable. When we are burnt out and worn out, we are subject to attack.
That’s what happened to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 25:17,18. The entire nation of Israel learned about the high price of exhaustion while they were on their exodus from Egypt. Talk about emotionally and physically exhausted! God said to Moses,“Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind…” (Deut. 25:17-18)
Who were the ones that were lagging behind? They were the ones who were feeble, tired and worn out… the ones who desperately needed rest!! This enemy didn’t go for the strong ones or the ones up front, marching forth in victory and confidence. No, this enemy, like the enemy of our souls, went for the weary, the stragglers, those who were tired and barely hanging on.
When we allow ourselves to be physically and emotionally spent and worn, we become susceptible to the enemy’s attack. We become an easy target, a sitting duck. Our enemy attacks us with despair, depression, illness and myriad other maladies… all results of a fatigued soul and body.
When we discipline ourselves to rest though, we protect ourselves from the enemies of fatigue, burnout and mental fuzziness. Rest is not only what our bodies need. Our souls need rest also. Our wills need it; our minds need it and our emotions need it too. But sometimes the silent signals of exhaustion of our souls aren’t heard as easily as the signals that alarm when we need physical rest. Our minds must receive rest. Our wills must experience rest. Our emotions must engage in rest.
Like the psalmist said, “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother; my soul is like a weaned child within me.” (Ps 131:2) That kind of rest is a decision. It’s a choice for our wills to cease from striving, for our minds to quiet the noise of thought and for our emotions to de-tangle the knotted feelings.
Take a few minutes today and determine if your soul or body needs rest.
If you immediately think “I don’t have time,” then you are the one to whom I am writing … you need rest! Is it your mind that needs a break? Is it your emotions that need a holiday? Is it your body that needs a nap?! My friend, protect yourself from the enemy by disciplining yourself to rest.
“Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.” Psalm 116:7
Question: How can you incorporate rest into your day?