Overcoming Spiritual Exhaustion

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Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds (Hebrews 12:3).

1THEREFORE, SINCE we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God [granting us favor, benefits, opportunities, and especially salvation], we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion 2We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (Daniel 7:25).

3For the enemy has pursued and persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in dark places as those who have been long dead. 4Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed and faints within me [wrapped in gloom]; my heart within my bosom grows numb (Psalm 143:3-4).

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah. (Psalm 77:3).

ALSO [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to [a] turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up) (Luke 18:1).

This blog is for people who have given above and beyond in their service to the Lord – as some would say spent for the kingdom. This is why spiritual exhaustion occurs in the first place. Some books have addressed this, but I feel like the Lord has given me some revelation lately that might be helpful to those who are struggling to keep the flame burning.

I am not talking about just being physically tired or emotionally weary for a short span: I am talking about that long-term sucked-the-life-out-of-you-feeling that doesn’t revive easily. I got a PhD in this over the years in the School of Spirit of Hard Knocks. I didn’t get it by reading 10-minute devotionals and attending a few spiritually edifying meetings a couple of times a week.

Most people who “burn out” do so because they’ve depleted spiritual energy and can’t seem to get it back. The emphasis here is on the human spirit (little “s”) that so needs refreshing and renewing. David cried, “Renew a right spirit within me” (Psa. 51). God can renew, but wisdom is required. Our age and generation have a serious problem with spending time alone with God.

Face it, CDs, books, etc., are fine, but you don’t soak in Christ well through your physical ears or eyes. Union with God is not cheap, and the Lord has said again and again in scripture that it is those who hang with Him who are disciples. Lots of Christians with fire insurance, but truly few who walk with Christ and stay “in season.”

Walking with God is “expensive” and can be an exhausting ordeal. The scriptures at the beginning of this indicate the kinds of predicaments people can find themselves in. Notice the Psalmist in 77:3 – even his thoughts of God were sometimes painful and caused weariness to his spirit. To make this short, I’ve put a list together of things that I think are the causes of this very debilitating dilemma:

  1. Christians, even those who have experienced the baptism in the Spirit, can become exhausted because either they have failed to renew their spirits through proper rest or recreation, or they have depended largely on their souls to “get the job done.” An overly religious spirit is a killer! Ecclesiastes exhorts that there’s a time for everything under heaven – even fun! This first one really depends on discernment. No mature Christians want to think they’re moving in the power of the soul, yet Watchman Nee warned of this in “The Latent Power of the Soul.” He warned that Last Day people would return to the Tree of Knowledge much too frequently, especially the lost, who think knowledge alone is power. As we have become more dependent on knowledge and good marketing (this is mainly soul-related), we can get away from drawing from the Lord. Eventually this kind of movement produces little lasting fruit as has been attested to by Willow Creek Church in Chicago.
  1. The fruit of the spirit or fruit of the soul? On the heels of the same problem above, it seems that many Christians have confused where the fruit really comes from, still working out of their own ability to produce fruit, when Gal. 5:22 says clearly it’s the “fruit of the s” I understand the Greek rendering here can be a little “s.” In other words, it’s fruit born through the human spirit, drawing on the Holy Spirit. If my theology is correct – and there are many good theologians who will back this up — the primary download from the Holy Spirit is to the human spirit, not the soul. A lack of knowledge then causes us to strive in the soul to produce the works of God! This can really cause of a lot of anger, if we continue to strive in some kind of performance-oriented way. A better way, I am finding out is receiving blessing from God to the human spirit to manifest the fruit of the spirit, and not necessarily through a beaten down soul! This is not to disregard the work of the cross, but some Christians have taken this to extremes thinking by “crucifying their souls” spiritual reality will be the result.
  1. Too busy for our own good. Many people today are exhausted to the point of giving up because of the incessant Internet, cell phones and voicemail addictions. When that’s not happening, there’s always the omnipresent TV or radio background noise that offers little redeeming value for the Jesus Christ starved spirit! I find it helpful to turn EVERYTHING off for restorative time. Group time is great and, of course, fellowship, too, but nothing replaces one on time. Some people have relegated this to Bible reading (good) but are short on long times of prayer, which certainly are WORK. Careful here, too, though, prayer can be exhausting as well.
  1. Unanswered prayers and prophetic words that are not fulfilled. If we are impatient with God’s timing for prophetic words, we will lose heart, thinking He doesn’t care, etc. One man of God who has taught many in the school of the prophets, Bill Hamon, said a prophetic word given him at his ordination was fulfilled 50 years later! Attempting to move ahead because we got restless with somebody’s prophetic word can spell disaster because we may try to “make it happen” ourselves. This is a recipe for disaster. Let’s be real: Christians often do stupid things like buying businesses they get stuck with or moving to another location because of a prophetic word or marrying someone they’re not sure about because somebody gave them “a Word.” We have to KNOW these things, confirm them in the mouths of two or more witnesses – assuming too much can be the worst things we ever do!
  1. God is more concerned with faithfulness than stretching our faith out into areas that we have not been given access to or grace to receive them. Peter warns that we should walk in the grace given us for the gifting. Paul wanted to move beyond his sphere of influence, for example, but God would not let that happen for various reasons. Paul even admitted, much to the chagrin of those who believe their faith conquers everything right on time, that his desire to enter one particular area was stopped by Satan. Pushing on, without the Lord’s wisdom, can place us in a spiritual warfare hornet’s nest! Remember, God said “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.”
  1. The End Times can be brutal on the psyche. The excessive number of books written on this subject is mindboggling, and we have to face it, some of these have been and will be dead wrong because they are coming from the limited understanding of the prophetic puzzle given us. The Book of Revelation Made Easy, for exampleand other such books can border on the ridiculous! The Book of Revelation is like Jesus describes Himself, He who is, who was and who is to come! As one Messianic Jewish friend told me, “The main sign is the salvation of the Jews – when they start clamoring for Messiah to come – He will be right at the door! Everything else leads up to this. The latest trendy idea may not be worth a plug nickel in terms of our getting a clear understanding of these most stressful days.
  1. Too much “honey.” Scripture says we can eat too much honey, which can cause us to “vomit it up.” The Bible indicates that this means too much of a good thing. Many Christians read every book than anyone recommends, listen to every TV preacher and overspend themselves for other people, rather than getting direction from the Lord. As my friend Steve Sampson says, “If you want a different Jesus, wait 30 minutes for the next TV show!” Solomon warned us, “The reading of many books is endless and wearying to the soul.”
  1. The failure to meditate. Meditating on Jesus refreshes. Most Christians spend time praying but not meditating. Quiet meditation is not only a means to receive direction, but it’s elixir for the stressed out soul! Meditation on the Lord can be done anytime/anywhere, but it is recommended that we retreat to a quiet place where no one can interrupt that time – no cell phone, etc. Meditation is ruminating on the Word; it’s chewing on the truth, rolling around inside our spirits and sensing His quiet assurance that all is well.

I could go on here, but these truths have certainly helped me – and may the Lord help you as well as you consider your own life.

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