A year ago, if you asked someone "how are you doing?" they'd say, "I'm busy!" But now how someone is you doing it's common to hear, "I am exhausted." How about you? How are you doing? If you're fatigued, this may help.
We can say it's 2020, but I think that implies 2021 is going to be easier. Hope so.
But so many of the changes that've taken place change in 2020, change how we live, and this really adds to our stress.
Parenting is more stressful in this pandemic than it's been in a long time. Working remotely sounds good but we miss a lot of social engagement, and that adds stress.
Remote learning is exhausting for teachers and parents but especially for children. Kids miss being at school, they miss their friends and fun, and they need extra help. Many grandparents are stepping up, which is awesome but exhausting.
In some ways we're doing more than ever but in other important ways we're actually doing less… less going out of the house, less worship and community and getting together with our friends. And not being able to do these because of how God made us adds to our stress.
Even if we aren't doing more than ever, many of us are feeling more than ever; that's exhausting.
COVID has put some of you on constant alert worrying for your spouse, kids, parents for almost a year. And if you're already someone who feels everything this is extra heavy. Or you feel deeply about the mask mandates, government enforced isolation, closed businesses, churches, holidays. But we're all affected in some way and it's taking a toll.
A recent poll identified people's primary emotions during this. The top three: frustration, worry, and anger. And anger was increasing as the survey ended.
So how do we, as born again believers, thrive in the midst of a pandemic and lockdown and everything 2020? How do we overcome 20 things that lead to frustration, worry, and anger? How do we find the spiritual stamina, freedom when we're tired and ready to throw in the towel on our responsibilities?
Here are some steps to take, and some truths to trust.
Self-Care: Body and Soul
The first one isn't spiritually sexy, but if you're stressed, worn out, and a little down, you are not alone in this, it's super normal. You may need to pay extra attention to your physical wellbeing. Self-care, body and soul. Buy healthy, taper back if you drink in excess, get sleep, exercise; get outside.
Self-Care: Mind and Heart
Self-Care also applies to the heart and mind. Our culture speaks so loudly, telling us what matters, how to think, & shaming us if we don't fit the mold.
Be alert to worldly thinking. Be selective with what you consume, who you allow to influence you.
If we simply scroll on social media we don't select what we see, it selects us. Here's a soul protecting discipline: scroll intentionally. Decide what you need, before Facebook decides for you.
You know but let me remind you the devil fights to erode your trust in Jesus and the everyday difference that Jesus makes. Real yet unseen forces use the world and its resources to mold you—your values, your choices into its image.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Let the truth and grace that is given to you in Christ renew your mind and transform how you respond to the world around you. Then you will be able to enjoy and also to reveal to a thirsty world the goodness of walking with Jesus in God's will.
The world needs this from Christians today, to see a life of hope lived in Christ. And this is where there is peace, in trusting Jesus with who God is and with who you are to Him. Not squeezed into the world's mold, but transformed by Jesus.
Prioritize your walk with Jesus
If you are stressed, exhausted, turn to Jesus. Find ways to let God awaken your born again heart and revive your faith.
1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world [the born again you is what overcomes the world. Our bodies tire. Our minds tire. But "what is born of God overcomes the world"]; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. [Our faith in Jesus Christ, God's grace, and God's promises; this is what gives us freedom and victory.] 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
The one who overcomes is the believer who trusts Jesus for God's unconditional love to be expressed to him each day.
The one who overcomes the world is the Christian who trusts Jesus not only for her sins to be forgiven but for how she lives as she follows Him.
The world is stressful not only because of a pandemic but even before because it puts a thousand conditions on you to perform, or else. Impress us. Do this to be a good person, to get a raise, to get followers, to feel good about your life, to be a good parent.
Such a demanding law can consume us. Am I doing enough? Am I good enough? Do they like me? Whereas God truly loves you and gave up His Son for you; and His Son gave up His life for you and lavishes God's favor on you.
There is peace in trusting Jesus with who God is, and who you are to Him.
For the LORD our God "predestined you to become conformed to the image of His Son." So it's going to happen. "And these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."
This tells us whatever happens next, God's got it. And all the truly big things are already taken care of. And with the rest, cast your cares on Him for He cares for you. If you call yourself exhausted, heed Jesus calls to you, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
If you're still weak, take heart for the Spirit helps in our weakness.
God's shares these and a hundred other encouraging promises for you to trust Jesus and take hold of these truths by faith,
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
If you are exhausted, let Jesus renew you—read His Word.
Don't know where to start? Start today in one of the Gospels, the book of Acts, Colossians or Ephesians. Take notes. Read whole passages or whole books. Bookmark where you ended and pick it up tomorrow. Make a list of favorite verses or passages. Memorize a whole paragraph. Listen to sermons. Take online classes from Dallas Theological Seminary.
If you are exhausted, let Jesus renew you—pray to the Lord
Speak directly with the Father and trust that He is present with you. And remember who you're speaking to, Hallow His name, remember His glory, His power, how much He cares for you. And pour out your heart to Him…
Psalm 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Feel your feelings with Him. Don't get holy before you pray. Be humble. Honest. "Lord, I’m stressed and I'm worn out." Pour out your heart and trust Him to hear you and to care, and then allow Him to lead you after this.
I have a list of things conversation starters with God when I don't know what to say, when I'm brain dead or not feeling particularly close…
- Thank Him for His good gifts. Tell Him what you're grateful for
- Ask for His help. Ask Him for what you think you need (yet not my will…)
- Pray for others. Ask Him on behalf of those who are in need
- Confess your sins and weaknesses and trust Him to restore you
- Worship Him. Praise Him for His grace, power, sovereignty, wisdom
If you are exhausted, by God's grace say yes to Jesus.
Wherever you can, follow Him. Say yes to Him. Serve others in love. We are isolated and exhausted so this seems daunting. But it may be the spiritual refreshment you lack. God calls us into relationships. And into ministry.
If you're exhausted, invest in your closest relationships
I'm talking with your spouse, children, parents, church family, close friends, a spiritual mentor.
However you do it in the COVID season, in person, on the phone, or intentionally online, do it.
Study after study confirms that the happiest people are those with strong family ties, those with close friendships.
There are obvious hindrances to this outside of ourselves. We can't control any of this. Plus, the pandemic has changed so much, but COVID doesn't change the fact that God has made us relational beings who thrive on love and friendship.
We simply do not thrive in long-term isolation. Neither does faith or hope or love. The only one who truly believes Christians are better off isolated from each other is the enemy.
And the people that God has set in your life need you who know God's love to love them and to show them your hope in how you live.
The people around us need the church being the church. Sharing our faith and knowledge of Christ. Sharing the glad tidings of great joy for all people.
Jesus authorized each church to be official outposts in the world, preaching the gospel, speaking the truth in love, building up of the body of Christ, spurring each other on to love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
If you can't make it for health reasons, safety concerns, we totally get it. But for your sake, keep engaged. Stay in community. Watch the message online. Join us when we're on Facebook live. Invite your COVID circle to join you on Sundays. Talk afterwards with others who watch online, ask what in the message spoke to you? Share how you're holding up—or not. Pray together.
If you're already exhausted, realize many of us are, but if you don't adjust, the next few months are only going to be brutal. We don't want that. We love you. We care about you.