When driving on UK motorways, it is not uncommon to see billboards with warnings like "Tiredness kills. Take a 15 minute break every 2 hours" or "Tiredness kills. Make time for a break".
Tiredness affects many of us on a regular basis. It is caused by constant physical and mental stress which are conscious as well as unconscious. Medical professionals tell us that fatigue is the feeling of being tired and can be caused by stress, anxiety, illness, inadequate sleep, excessive workload among many other factors.
I recently struggled with feelings of being tired and I could not readily explain why. I knew that I was dealing with a number of issues requiring my attention but I thought I had them covered but it seemed that unconsciously, I was constantly thinking about those things in spite of my having scheduled different times to handle them. Also added to the mix was the change of weather as well as the high pollen count in the atmosphere.
Once I start feeling like this, I take a rest and I begin to re-evaluate whatever I am dealing with at that point in time.
After recoding a massive victory over the prophets of baal, Elijan recieved a message from Delilah the queen, "I swear that by this time tomorrow, you will be just as dead as those prophets. If I don’t succeed, may the gods do the same or worse to me." ( 1 Kings 19:2)
Elijah did what most of us would probably have done. He hurried out of town. At some point during the journey, he became frustrated, weary and tired. His tiredness was not just physical, he was also emotionally and psychologically drained.
Does that paint a picture of your situation today? I am sure many of us can identify with Elijah. Although he could look back at the victory over the prophets of baal, one reality that stared him the face right now was that dreadful message from Jezebel. He knew it was not just a threat, she had the means and the ability to carry it out.
God's intervention saved Elijah from a total meltdown. First, Elijah had to rest. After venting his frustration, he fell asleep. God gave us the ability to sleep because sleep is important to enable our bodies recover from the mental and physical activity that we engage in during the course of the day. Next, God sent an angel to wake him up and give him food to eat. We need food to sustain us physically. When we neglet to eat either due to being busy, or lacking appetite due to illness, it is just a matter of time before we begin to grow weaker.
Sometimes tiredness is not as a result of lack of sleep or food but emotional and psychological stress. Rick Warren in his blog post titled, "How to Recover From the Emotional Exhaustion of Ministry" gave three pieces of advice which is aimed at church leaders but which I feel is relevant to every Christian.
1. Release Your Frustration - Stress and exhaustion create all kinds of negative emotions; anxiety, worry and fear being the main culprits. The antidote to this is to lay it all out sincerely before God. Psalm 62:8b, “Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge”(NLT). I had to do that recently as I headed to work. I was feeling weak and tired and all I could so was pray "Lord I feel so weak and tired, please give me the strength I need for today".
My prayer was answered. I can't say exactly when I started to feel better but during the course of the day I just realised I felt refreshed!
2. Receive Help from Other - Most times many of us think that asking for help from others is a sign of weakness. Instead of letting others know how we are feeling, we isolate ourselves and tell ourselves that we can handle it. Rick Warren could not have said it better, "When you are at your breaking point, you need people in your life. You need people who will give you strength, and most of all, who will give you perspective". The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Encourage each other and give each other strength” (NIV)
3. Refocus on Christ - Jesus Himself declared, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28) Stress and anxiety takes our gaze away from Christ and focus on ourselves. The questions start coming, "How will I handle this", "What do I need to do to solve this problem?", "How will I convince them I am the best man for the job?" Jesus wants us to bring it all to Him. He wants us to know that He can handle it and we can rest in the assurance that He will do what is best for us because He cares for us more than we can ever know.
Are you tired? Rest. Eat well. Go to Jesus. Sorted.