5 Ways to Refuel When You’re Drained

Do you ever feel drained? Overwhelmed by life, but with no energy to deal with any of it? Do you have days when even brushing your teeth before bed feels like a challenge?

You’re not alone. We all have these moments. Even God’s prophets had low points! Elijah, one of the prophets in the Old Testament, came to such a low point that he even asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4).

So how do we keep going when we’re running on empty? Check out these tips to help you push through those moments!

 

1. Stop: Acknowledge that You’re Burned Out

The first thing Elijah did was acknowledge he was burned out. In fact, he was so fed up with everything that he told God he wanted to die. “He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 Kings 19:4).

We are human. There is only so much we can do. Feelings of tiredness and weariness are a part of our existence in this  broken world. Ignoring this does not do us any good. Let’s take a tip from Elijah’s complete honesty, and acknowledge that sometimes, we just can’t do it all. Only when we recognize we have a problem, can we begin to deal with it.

 

2. Sleep: Get Enough Rest

After telling God how he felt, Elijah promptly “lay down under the bush and fell asleep” (1 Kings 19:5).

While we might be able to stay up late one or two nights to get things finished, at some point, we need to prioritize sleep for our minds and bodies.

When God created the universe, He set in motion a rhythm of work and rest (Genesis 1:5, 2:2). We are created to work, and we are created to rest. There is no guilt in getting the sleep that we need—the sleep that God created us to need. And let’s be honest, the work that we do when we’re well-rested is usually of a better quality than otherwise!

3. Eat: Nourish Your Body

In the middle of Elijah’s nap, “an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat’” (1 Kings 19:5).

Eating and drinking is no small matter. In fact, it is of such importance that God sent a heavenly messenger to remind Elijah and even prepared bread and water for him (1 Kings 19:6)!

God created us as physical beings, and that is a good and beautiful thing (Genesis 1:31). As physical beings, we need physical nourishment. So maybe now is a good time to treat ourselves to a nice big breakfast, a lovely afternoon tea, or a pleasant picnic. Getting the nourishment we need can go a long way in re-energizing us.

 

4. Seek: Draw Strength from God

After his meal, Elijah took another nap and ate another meal. And then, he “traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:8).

In addition to seeing to our physical needs, we must also check our spiritual needs. After all, who can give us direction when we are lost (Matthew 7:7)? Make us strong when we are weak (Isaiah 40:29)? Give us grace that is sufficient in any circumstance (2 Corinthians 12:9)?

When we are tired, worn out, and drained, let us carve out a quiet place and come before God. Let us tell Him our troubles, knowing that He listens and cares. Let us ask Him for strength, because though it might be too much for us to handle, it is never too much for God.

 

5. Walk: Find Companions for Your Journey

One reason Elijah felt so discouraged was because he felt like he was the only one still following God (1 Kings 19:14). But God comforted him, and revealed that there were still 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed to false gods.

Like Elijah, we are not alone. God has placed us among brothers and sisters. We can reach out and ask others to partner with us to do the things we feel too tired to. At the very least, we can tell our brothers and sisters in Christ, “I’m tired. Can you walk with me for a bit?”

As we reach out to friends and talk things through, we realize that we’re not in this alone. Others have had similar experiences, and they’re willing to walk with us. They get it.

 

When we feel drained, it can be hard to set aside time for proper sleep, good meals, and meeting with God and with friends. But how encouraging it is to read from the story of Elijah that even the prophets need to meet these basic, fundamental needs of life! Let us take that first step, and set aside time to recharge. May these refresh and refuel us  for tomorrow.

When I Was Offended By My Church

Written By Crystal Brockington, USA

I couldn’t believe that they actually mailed me a letter.

When I had completed the Small Group Leadership Training several weeks earlier, our Campus Pastor had informed the class that at the end of the training, some of us would, unfortunately, be receiving a letter stating that we were not currently fit to be small group leaders. I brushed off the possibility.

After all, I was already on the worship team and part of the young adult leadership team. I had done exceedingly well on the biblical knowledge exam that all potential leaders had to take. I also had one of the church pastors as a character reference. Several of the people involved in the decision-making process had even prematurely congratulated me on my new small group!

So, imagine my surprise when I read the letter thanking me for my time and interest, wishing me the best, and noting that I did not meet their criteria.

I was devastated to hear that I wasn’t leadership material—so devastated that this rejection was a major contributing factor in my decision to leave that congregation several months later.

I had been rejected before. We all have. Rejection is a part of life, but it was hard to move past the offense I felt.

Here are four things that helped me to grow through the pain of rejection, instead of simply feeling bad about it.

 

1. Grieve the loss

Being considered for a promotion, whether at our job or in the church, can be exciting. The evaluation process often stirs up thoughts and conversations of what we wish to accomplish. This can cause us to become emotionally invested in the possibilities.

In my case, I had prayed quite intensely for the local college students that I had hoped would be discipled through my small group. When I wasn’t permitted to lead the group, I needed to grieve the loss of the possibility.

While it is true that missing out on an opportunity, going through a break-up, or even making life transitions may feel different from grieving the loss of a loved one, these are still moments in our lives that warrant grief.

Our feelings of sadness or disappointment are valid. We can acknowledge them as we release them to the Lord.

 

2. Let go of offense

It hurt that my church hadn’t chosen me, and I was offended that they mailed me a letter to inform me.  I perceived the mailing of the letter to be a disregard for my value—surely there was a more considerate way to handle the situation?

Since I felt devalued, it started to color how I processed my relationships with leaders in my church. One relationship in particular, was highly affected. In hindsight, this person hadn’t actually done anything to wrong me, but through the lens of offense, I had allowed him to become an enemy within my heart. Offense had blinded me to this leader’s good intentions, commitment to my growth in the Lord, and genuine biblical love for me.

Several months after leaving my church, I was able to reconcile with this leader, but it was only possible because I released the offense. I had to forgive him and the church at large, for the ways that their actions had wounded me, even though they hadn’t apologized, and even though they never intended to hurt me in the first place.

Christ commands us in Scripture to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:39). When we walk around with offense, we are holding something against our neighbor, and this is contrary to love. Offense keeps a record and creates a debt. But love, according to Scripture, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, and keeps no record of wrong-doings (1 Corinthians 13:5).

In Christ, our offenses against the Father are covered, and the debt they create is canceled. Therefore, we should follow His instruction and gracious example when dealing with those who have created the debt of offense within our hearts (Matthew 18:32-33).

 

3. Surrender to the process

Sometimes we don’t receive a position or promotion because we simply aren’t the best candidate or right for the position. Other times there is no logical explanation. In my case, I was not ready to lead. While I was “qualified” on paper and had met the written requirements, Scripture told a different story.

God takes leadership seriously, and so did my church. This congregation held small group leaders to the same standard as other church officers. Leaders, by nature, set an example of living biblical Christianity and also come alongside members of the congregation to do the same. For example, among other things, Scripture dictates that deacons are to be respectable, sincere, honest in their pursuits, and deeply rooted in their faith (1 Timothy 3:8-12).

If I am honest, in that season of my life, I didn’t measure up to God’s standard of leadership. I was frequently late, I was easily offended, and I lacked peace and joy. This didn’t negate the things that I did well, and it didn’t mean that I should have been disqualified from other areas of leadership and service that I was already active in. However, it did indicate that there was still space for me to grow.

If we are able to let go of the offense of being shown our shortcomings, we can partner with the Lord and the people around us to intentionally grow in these areas until we are the leaders that Christ has called us to be.

 

4. Remember that it is God who exalts

No matter how qualified, gifted, or charismatic we are, God is ultimately the one who exalts us to positions of leadership. He is much more concerned with our character and development than He is with our resume or reputation.

Even in seasons of denial or rejection, we should honor God by stewarding well the influence that He has already entrusted to us. Consider Joseph (Genesis 39-45) and King David (1 Samuel 24:1-7), who both navigated a process as they experienced incremental promotion. Scripture is full of emerging leaders who are going through a process, working through offense, and growing in humility as they walked in God’s plan for them. We are in good company, as we do the same.

 

What I Wish I Knew About Loving My Wife

Written by Tim Gustafson, USA

Tim Gustafson is a writer and editor at Our Daily Bread Ministries. As the adopted son of missionaries to Ghana, Tim has an unusual perspective on life in the West. He and his wife, Leisa, are the parents of one daughter and seven sons. Perhaps not surprisingly, his life verses say: “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy” (Psalm 68:5-6 NLT).

Hey, younger Tim!

Nice hair, dude! You’re going to miss that. Take those monstrous headphones off for a minute. I’ve got something to say.

Let me talk to you about this love and marriage thing. It’s great that you want a life with this gorgeous, passionate woman. That’s a beautiful thing. But marriage . . . well, how should I say this? Your life isn’t going to be your own any more. Marriage is a lot of fun, but it’s also labor-intensive, time-consuming, and demands real sacrifice.

So why get married?

Well, although marriage isn’t for everybody, we’re all made for community and family. Even the most introverted loners among us need that. And marriage is a major way God will pull you into His community and family.

So, I want to start by telling you the second-best thing you can do for this wonderful, complicated creature who will become your wife:

Learn what really loving her looks like!

It will do wonders for your marriage relationship if you can relate to her on her terms, and in her “language.” That isn’t as easy as it sounds. You have to listen to her. See her. Study her. Understand her. Yes, I ask the impossible. But try. When you’re doing it (mostly) right, the effort is fun and fulfilling.

Always keep the lines of communication open! She’s pretty passionate, which is one of the things you love about her, remember? That comes with an ever so slight downside. She can be really passionate! (Yeah, I know, I already said that.) So let her vent. Don’t give those answers you’re always so quick with. That’s not what she’s looking for. Hear her out.

Much of what she will want to talk about won’t have answers anyway. The world is broken, and she doesn’t like that. She needs to vent about it. When Saint Paul told us, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21), he let us know that submission is a two-way street. This is a lifelong, God-honoring partnership. Be Jesus to her, not Wikipedia.

Tend the important garden.

You are driven, and you are passionate about music, so pay attention here. Another pretty driven guy has a quietly successful roots-music band called Over the Rhine. This guy’s name is Linford Detweiler, and he’s been married to his band’s cofounder, Karin Bergquist, for over 20 years. When an interviewer asked him about balancing career and marriage, Detweiler said, “It’s kinda like tending two gardens. You can’t really neglect one garden in favor of your career.” That, younger Tim, is great advice!

Never neglect the garden that is your marriage. For too much of your life, you’re going to be favoring your career over everything else. And it’s going to be worse with you, because you, my mulleted ego, are going to have two careers at the same time. This military thing you think is part-time is going to consume a lot of your life. World events will turn your job as a reservist into a full-time gig—and you’re going to love it. You’re going to love it a little too much because you thrive on adventure. But you’ve got to find ways to include your family in the adventure.

Build a place for her.

You grew up quite transient. She did not. She won’t want to live on the road; she’ll always want a garden—a literal one. That’s what makes her happy. So you’ll need a place where you can plant that garden, and you need to take time in that garden with her. It’s part of her DNA.

Every time you get the chance, do things she likes to do. Coincidentally, that will include actual gardening! Just pull weeds or something. She’ll tell you what needs to be done. Leave the green-thumb stuff to her.

But the best thing you can do for your marriage is . . .

Love God!

That sounds platitudinous, but it’s the way of life we are called to. When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, He didn’t give a pontifical answer; He gave a practical one. It’s so practical that it demands our complete reliance on the Holy Spirit. Which, of course, is the point.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37–39).

If you’re loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, you will not have as much trouble loving your “neighbor,” i.e., your wife, as yourself.

You’re a goal-oriented guy. In the future a counselor is going to refer to you as “a thoroughbred.” It’s only going to be half a compliment. He means that you run hard, which is good.

But you don’t stop and smell the roses, which is bad. Stop and smell the roses! That will take work of a different kind. You’ve got to learn to embrace the quiet. Suppress the urge to charge forward every waking moment.

Go for quiet walks. And while you’re on those walks, listen for God. If you can keep that in mind, my younger self, you will be on your way to the kind of success others are going to want to emulate. Because it will be the success that can only come from God. And that, my younger me, is what your heart truly desires.

 

Regards,

Old-guy Tim, some time in the next millennium

 

A Dream I Had to Give Up . . . Hong Kong

Written By Cecilia Leung

You know that oft-quoted verse, Jeremiah 29:11? I hate it. If you bring it up to me right now, I’m liable to break down in tears or leave the room, slamming the door behind me.

Here’s the context. I’ve long had an irrational fear of ending up living on the outskirts of a small town in America. It might seem silly, but this is something I’ve really struggled with, and thought I eventually made peace with. For the first few years of marriage, my husband and I, and eventually our son, lived very happily in that dreamy, suburban neighborhood I had feared so much.

But two years ago, we were given the chance to move to the Asian metropolis I had spent some of my formative years in, Hong Kong, and we leaped at the chance.

From the day we landed, it felt like this was where we were meant to be. My husband, my son, and I, all thrived in different ways on this side of the world. Without need for much discussion, we both agreed that this is where we wanted to raise our son. This is where we were going to live for the next 20 years, and maybe for the rest of our lives.

We dreamed about the future. We relished the little daily memories we were making—picking out greens at the wet market while our child admired the frogs for sale; ordering roast pigeon for dinner at the noisy outdoor restaurants; watching the old men play chess in the park, chattering happily in the local language on the playground . . .

Then, because of a series of complex reasons, we made the decision to move back to America.

While we were convinced that a move will be best for our family in the long term, in many ways, it was the last thing we wanted to do. We both cried as we made the decision. America is great and all, but it is just not what we imagined for our lives.

I look around the home we thought we would raise our son in, and realize that it is not to be. Looking at frogs in the market, eating at outdoor restaurants . . . these things will no longer be a part of our daily lives. This will not be my son’s childhood.

And that hurts.

Letting go of dreams really, really hurts.

As I was crying myself to sleep the night after we made our decision to move, it occurred to me that I had been reading Jeremiah on and off throughout the summer, and would be reading chapter 29 the next day.

That threw me into a fresh round of tears.

I knew that in chapter 29, Jeremiah writes a letter to the Israelites in exile in Babylon. He tells them they are to remain in Babylon for 70 years. In the past, every time I heard that “70 years” promise (Jeremiah 29:10), I had always thought to myself, “Hey, that’s not so bad. They know when they’ll get to return to Israel.”

But this time it struck me. 70 years. That’s long enough for a generation to die. The parents who took their children from their ancestral homes in Israel to the foreign soil of Babylon—they would grow old and die, never seeing the familiar trees and bushes and boundary stones of their home again.

Is that how long we would be away from the place we had wanted to call home? Of course, we could (hopefully) come back for visits. But it wouldn’t be the same.

Through Jeremiah, God told the Israelites to “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters” (Jeremiah 29:5-6).

Build houses. Settle down. Plant gardens. Marry off your children. This is your new home, Israelites. You’re here to stay. Dig in. Invest. Live life.

It felt like God was talking directly to me.

You know, I’ve always been interested in growing things. I have a peanut plant growing in a pot in my tiny kitchen at the moment. But gardens are a near-impossibility in my beloved metropolis. “Plant gardens,” God says. Move back to America.

If I were less emotionally distraught, I would have admitted earlier that planting a garden would be lovely. I could grow peanuts, carrots, leeks, sunflowers . . .

But I did not want to move back. Don’t You dare tell me to plant gardens!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

But they are not my plans! In that moment, I did not want God’s stinking plans to “prosper” me. I did not want His hope and His future. I wanted my hope, my future—a future that involved raising my family here!

I cried myself to sleep.

I cried myself to sleep the next night as well, and the night after that.

But God is patient. He let me throw my little tantrums, and I didn’t get struck by lightning or anything.

Letting go of dreams hurts. But it’s something all of us have to deal with at some level or another. So many people throughout history have had to make harder decisions than we are making. At least I don’t know that we will be in America for the next 70 years. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to come back after 10 or 20 years or something. One could hope.

We’re making plans for the move now, obedient to where we think God is calling us to.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

These are most definitely not my plans. I would prefer things to go my own way. But I guess God knows best. He’s probably working things out right now, planning minute details that we won’t even notice until we look back with 20/20 hindsight years from now. He knows better than me what I need, what my husband needs, what my child needs.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

I’m trusting You on this one, God. I don’t like Your plans right now, but I trust You. You’ll work things out, one way or another. I’m sure in the long run, I’ll look back and be thankful for everything that’s happened. But it might take me a while to get to that point. Be patient with me.

You know what’s best, God. I trust You.