When We Are Worn Out

Fatigue PaintingThe man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. (Prov. 30:1)

When you hear someone say that they are tired, or when someone says to you, “wow, you look exhausted,” it is time to ask God, “What kind of fatigue am I experiencing Lord?” Rightly diagnosing our particular brand of exhaustion graciously get us more truly and quickly onto recovery’s road. 

Have You Been Working Non-Stop Lately?

The most common form of fatigue says nothing about what we experienced in our childhoods or about the spiritual conditions of our souls. We get tired because we are human. Our bodies have limits.  Jesus was weary from his journey so he sat down to rest by a well. (Jn. 4:6) This just means that he had been on his feet most of the day and felt the ache of it.  This kind of fatigue finds a remedy if you  just take a physical break.  You need a day off and this as a regular rhythm in your weekly life. God’s provision of a day of rest is your friend. You need an afternoon to sit by a well and give the muscles and bones in your feet a break.

Are You Irritable, Making Hasty Decisions or Despairing Lately?

Watch out for three temptations when you refuse physical rest as a regular part of your work-a-day life; irritability, immediacy and despair. Esau was exhausted from the long activities of an ordinary day. Irritable with fatigue he decided to give away his birthright in order to get immediate relief for his fatigue. Physical fatigue makes poor decision makers of us all. (Gen. 25:29-30) Elijah was exhausted from a tremendous season of victorious and courageous ministry. Worn out he began to think himself more alone than he actually was and with less of a future than he actually had. He did not need more Bible study or harder work or pastoral counsel. His ailment was physical fatigue. The remedy was sleep, food, more sleep, more food, and then he could hear the whisper of God again. (I Kngs. 19:4-18) When two hundred of David’s soldiers could go no further, he gave them physical rest, while he and the others went on. David then returned to greet them kindly again in contrast to others who would have shamed the fatigued. In contrast to these voices of contempt, David blessed the exhausted and honored them for their place and role among his people. (I Sam. 30:21-25) So the Lord intends to do with us.

Have You Dealt with A Lot of Sad Things Lately?

Sometimes disciples of Jesus sleep because of the ordinary work of the day (Lk. 9:32) At other times though, Jesus followers sleep because sorrows are exhausting them. (Lk. 22:45) When tired, take note of the amount of emotional trauma and sorrow that has confronted you recently. Sometimes a forty hour week can feel like eighty because of the amount of emotional energy involved.  Ugly praying is needed. Ugly prayers give vent to everything that worries, hurts, threatens and troubles us. (Job 16:7; Ps. 6:6; 69:3; Is. 38:14; Lam. 5:5) This kind of praying does not look or sound pretty.  Ugly prayers become Jesus’ gracious way to handle weariness from sorrows. With our sleepy and hurting companions we respond to Jesus’ apprenticeship in ugly prayer. (Lk. 22:46)

Have You Done A Lot of Good Without Recognition Lately?

Sometimes repeatedly doing good things strangely invites hopelessness and impatience to frazzle us. Hopelessness comes when it seems that all of our well-doing isn’t paying off, or changing things, or enabling us or others to arrive. Doing good is supposed to get us somewhere other than here doing something more renowned than this. We begin to think, “what is the point of doing all of this good?” The reward doesn’t match the work put in. We begin to doubt a good future. We imagine ourselves doing the same old good things, in the same old place, without end and without notice. We feel like quitting. Boredom with doing good sets in. (Gal. 6:9) At other times, we get frustrated and impatient with having to do good in the context of the same old antagonisms. We want things to change, to get easier. We are tired of dealing with the same cantankerous people; the same sour tasks. Patience gives us stamina. Losing patience, losing the ability to take a long view, wears us down. (Rev. 2:3) Patience and hope remind us that we aren’t using Jesus to get somewhere other than where we are. Instead, where we are is the place He is. His Spirit’s fruit right where we are is our need.

Have You Started Something New? 

Sometimes we are worn out simply because we are not accustomed to the thing being asked of us. We are used to running one mile. We are now being asked to run three and our lungs and muscles need time to catch up. We are humbled. (Jer. 12:5)  We need time. The amount of growth we need exposes us to a continual season of humbling that challenges us. We see our sin and feel our limits more than we want to. We get tired of our need to grow; tired of saying we are sorry, of being the one that doesn’t have it all together. (Heb. 12:3-5) “Consider Jesus,” the grace and love of his life, death, resurrection and pursuit of us forms the apprenticeship of our strengthening.

Are You Trying to Take God’s Place?

At other times, fatigue rises from our chasing after things that distract us from God. (Jer. 12:13; Hab. 2:13) We strive after wind and feel sore. Repentance, a fresh reception of his love, and a recovery of his contentment with our calling offers us rest again.


Fatigue is like blood in the water for sharks. When we are tired the attack intensifies rather than subsides. (Lk. 22:46; Lk. 4:3-5; Deut. 25:11; 2 Sam. 17:2, 29) No wonder we feel vulnerable and off-balance when we are worn out. Oh, the grace and wonder of God who has provided rhythms of rest, ugly praying, the provision of His Spirit, time to learn, and gospel direction, over the long haul for us. No wonder Jesus intercedes for us–purchasing rest for us–not letting exhaustion in its various forms separate us from his love or his hand. An apprenticeship in sleep, food, sabbath rhythms, ugly praying in community, time and seeking the Spirit for the long view awaits us in Jesus.


Author: zeswine

Zack (Dr. Eswine) is often spoken of as a "Pastor to Pastors." He serves as Pastor of Riverside Church in Webster Groves Missouri and Director of Homiletics at Covenant Theological Seminary. To learn more about his books and other resources, go to zackeswine.com

5 thoughts on “When We Are Worn Out”

  1. I dislike the article. The false assumption of the article is that we are ourselves masters of our fates and outcomes. In contrast, I hold that life is difficult. I base this proposition on John 16.33 which states that in this life we will have troubles. So it is possible that we are weary because life is difficult. When life becomes difficult, I am persuaded to remember that the Lord is my shepherd, and that I am his son. So I do not have to be only tired for the reasons posed by questions 1-6.

    1. Thank you Vikram. I am with you. Our lives are filled with troubles. Our troubles can overwhelm us. Exhausted from sorrows and bone-wearly labor, we suffer. We hurt terribly. No formula or technique, no using the Bible like a magic mantra can remove this “under the sun” reality from us. You are so right about Jesus. Jesus is our shepherd. We belong to him and nothing, no matter how tragic or terrible, can separate us from his love. Thank you for speaking of our Savior and his unending mercy. Thanks also for mentioning Jn. 16:33. The good news that Jesus has overcome the trouble laden world. Our troubles will not have the last word. Jesus will. I join you in taking heart and hope in him.

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