The greatest need of every tired and weary young worker
This article talks about the type of fatigue that is a direct result of lack of sleep and is determined by personal choices*. However you may be experiencing fatigue, take heart that the hope in Christ remains.
I recently heard on radio an ad featuring a young woman who is really happy to find out she is iron deficient. The joy does not stem from being iron deficient, of course, but from finding out that there is a reason explaining her constant fatigue. With this newfound knowledge, the woman can seek the help she needs. You guessed it! It was an ad for iron tablets. Correct diagnosis can bring relief if there is an acute solution available. And yet when it comes to our spiritual health, I suspect some of us live blissfully unaware until we seriously fall or burn out.
Young workers I meet with will often ask for practical advice – How can I manage my time better so I’m not tired all the time? How much time should I spend for devotion each day? Should I take up extra study/find a new job/pursue that promotion? How much sleep is enough? What these questions reveal is one of two things. First, it can reveal a genuine desire to worship God in all areas of life like Paul appeals in Romans 12:1-2. On the other hand, it can also reveal that they want to worship God and something else. Yet Jesus tells us we are incapable of serving two masters; either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24).
Figuring out what it is that is consuming our time, energy and space in our hearts requires honest reflection. Here are some different ways to ask the same questions:
How can I manage my time better so I’m not tired all the time?
Instead: What is currently taking up your time? What desires are driving your devotion to these activities and/or people?
How much time should I spend for devotion each day?
Instead: What makes setting aside time for God difficult?
Should I take up extra study/find a new job/pursue that promotion?
Instead: Am I considering these things with an eternal perspective or am I hoping they will satisfy me in ways which Jesus cannot?
How much sleep is enough?
Instead: Have I seriously considered the way God has designed me and sought to worship him by resting an appropriate amount?
These questions are helpful, not just for young workers, but for all who work for the glory of God. As I apply these questions to myself, I realise that I am free to be brutally honest because my salvation is secure in Christ. I realise that my calendar can reveal my desire to seek comfort, security and identity in my job. I realise that my inability to say ‘no’ to others can reveal a desire to build my self worth on the approval of others. I too, am prone to wander, lusting after what the world offers me (1 Peter 2:11) and forgetting God’s good promise that he satisfies all our needs in Jesus (Philippians 4:19). What I need first, above all else, is not a better timetable, an accountability partner or a mindfulness app - my greatest need is Jesus.
In his book Under Pressure, Andrew Laird describes this diagnosis - “Christian theologian Augustine famously wrote, 'Thou hast made us for thyself O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee'. Our restless, dissatisfied hearts will never be satisfied by having it all, yet we put ourselves under enormous pressure trying to ‘gain the world’. Our hearts will only ever find rest, contentment, and satisfaction in the one who made us - the all satisfying God.”
Just like iron deficiency can explain why someone feels ongoing fatigue, so there are better ways of understanding the root cause of our frustrations and fatigue. Understanding that our fatigue may be the result of a spiritual problem can help us run to the solution quicker. When you feel overwhelmed, tired and worked to the bone, go to Jesus. In Christ, we find our true identity and inherent worth as God’s children (John 1:12). In Christ, we have one who has claimed victory over sin and death at the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). In Christ, we have a way to enjoy God’s eternal blessing and rest (Matthew 11:28).
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40: 28-31
*I’d like to acknowledge that there are instances where fatigue is abnormal, prolonged and where no amount of rest can resolve. There are proper medical diagnosis for such conditions (ie, iron deficiency, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and symptoms ought to be consulted on by medical professionals. It is incorrect to assume that all fatigue is the same and assuming so can be damaging to those who live with conditions such as CFS.