Whether you are called to missions where you are pursuing the nations for the sake of the gospel or a counselor or pastor/pastor’s spouse loving on hurting people or just a tired caregiver or overworked mama, burnouts can happen. Luckily there is hope in those seasons in God's word. There are verses for burnout. Today I want to share some scriptures for when you are stressed and overwhelmed.
We tend to pursue perfection and excellence in all we do, but in that pursuit it is easy to get distracted and overwhelmed and eventually burned out. Burnout is pure stress and it causes us to be completely drained and exhausted emotionally, physically and mentally. I see burn out most often in people will who work jobs that focus on caring for people like medical professionals, rescue ministry workers, pastors, moms and also creatives.
I want to share one particular passage of scripture that I always run too when I am feeling stressed and burned out. I have also shared this verse with dozens of women struggling with stress, anxiety and depression and have seen it provide help and relief.
1 Kings 19 - Elijah is Burned Out
In 1 Kings 19 we see a very stressed out Elijah. In the previous chapter he called down fire from heaven proving that there is one true God. He then put to death hundreds of false prophets that were leading God people astray. In chapter 19 Jezebel, the queen, learns that Elijah killed all her false prophets and she is angry. She sends threatening notes to Elijah and Elijah panics and flees to the wilderness.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 1 Kings 19:4
There are a lot of emotions associated with burn out and here we see Elijah experiencing several.
He goes to a wilderness. He puts himself as faraway from people as possible. I am TERRIBLE about isolating myself when I am feeling overwhelmed with life. When life gets hectic and it all becomes too much instead of running to community where we can find help, encouragement and support, we run to the wilderness where we can wallow.
Cynical Attitude/Desire to Escape
Elijah is so overwhelmed and burned out that he asks God to let him die. He was so distracted by the circumstances and his current state that he had a desire most people have when burned out. He wanted to escape. For him it was life in general that he was wanting to escape, but who hasn’t felt this way to some degree? You’re exhausted and you just want out. You want to run away. You want to quit.
False Sense of Failure
Elijah also says “I am no better than any that were before me. I have failed.” A false sense of failure is also a SUPER common side effect of burnout! Elijah just called down fire from heaven and reminded the people of God who they were to follow. That was a victory, but stress and emotion distract and convince us that we failed even when that’s far from the truth.
What’s beautiful is God’s response to Elijah’s condition.
And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. 1 Kings 19:5-8
God promises over and over in scripture that He will never leave us. (Deut 31:6&8, Joshua 1:5, 1 Kings 8:57, 1 Chron 28:20, Psalm 37:38 & 94:14, Isaiah 41:78 & 42:16, Hebrews 13:5) David even said he couldn’t get away from the Lord even if he wanted to. (Psalm 139:7-10) God also really stresses that He will be near to us when we are hurting and when we are carrying heavy and crushing burdens. (Psalm 34:18, 55:22 & 147:3; Matthew 11:28; 1 Peter 5:7) When Elijah flees to the wilderness, God is there with him. He sends and angel to be with him and to minister to him.
You are not alone. God is near you. God cares about what you are carrying. Instead of bearing it all on your own run to the body of Christ for help. Let other believers know what you're carrying. Seek counsel. Let God and His people help you.
Rest & Provision
When Elijah said “Lord I want to die.” God met him there and gave him strength to live. God provided him with rest and food for strength. When we want to quit or we realize that we can get everything done that needs to happen, it’s there at the end of our own strength that God can intervene and we can tap into His strength. We can achieve so much more with God than we’ll ever be able to on our own. Usually when I find myself burned out it’s because I have been using my own strength. Instead of depending on the Lord and His resources, I have exhausted myself.
When you reach the end of yourself and you are done doing it on your own, let God know and let him step in and show off. Let him energize and refocus your mind. Let him provide helpers. Let him help you to just REST! God had work for Elijah to do but allowed Elijah to just rest for a season! Rest is a good thing from God. Whatever God help for you looks like, know it is available. Stop striving and let God work.
I really hope this helps you today! I encourage you to read the whole chapter in 1 Kings because it is so good and I only just touched on it! If this post did help you, would you please share it? There’s a little share icon below this post where you can share it to multiple platforms and maybe this can help someone else feeling burned out.
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