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.

 

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.

 

Simple Ways to Love God With Your Mind

Written By Sarah Tso, Singapore

It was a beautiful autumn Saturday when I unpacked my last box. I had just moved to UK from Singapore, and was thrilled to start my postgraduate studies and to continue campus ministry as I had done as an undergraduate.

However, as I settled into my new home and met my housemates, I quickly realized that as a committed evangelical Christian, I was in the minority. While I believed God was my source for everything, most of my housemates did not see the need for God as they deemed themselves “self-made successes”.

This made me question—why did I believe what I believed? Was I going to church because it was the “right” thing to do, for a cathartic worship experience, and for encouragement to get me through the week? I realized that beyond loving God with my heart (my passion), soul (my life) and strength (my service), I also had to love God with my mind—to know my faith and why I believed.

This got me started on a quest to love God with my mind. Along the way, I came up with four ways which have proved helpful:

 

M—Make Time to Know God

I arrived in the UK feeling confident as a witness for Christ. But as I tried to stand up to any Jesus-related questions thrown my way, I humbly realized I had accepted God and the Bible based on others’ faiths. Seeing the importance of knowing God for myself, I created a scared space in my life to read His Word and ask honest questions about it.

Through such times with the Lord, I began to know His redemptive father heart for all and to trust that—more than I ever could—He loved my housemates and wanted them to receive Him. I was reminded that only He could bring about the growth of the seed of the gospel sown into their lives (1 Corinthians 3:6), which came in His perfect timing and ways higher than my own (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Having this sacred space greatly benefited me as I began to know God for myself–to know Him whom I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12) so that when questioned about Him, I would be prepared to answer.

This sacred space can look different for each of us. For me, as an audiovisual learner, I prefer to listen to the audio Bible on my daily morning commute, and pray between appointments. What is your sacred space with God? Consider marking it in your calendar so you won’t miss out moments to meet with God regularly.

 

I—Investigate Truth Claims

As I interacted more with my non-Christian friends, I realized how ill-prepared I was to answer some important questions. Why would someone believe in God when life looks good? Why was living a homosexual lifestyle sinful, and is it possible to surrender such desires?

Loving God with my mind meant I could not dismiss these questions. Such topics needed clarity, but before I dove into them, I needed to understand truth in order to detect what was false. Through a journey of reading, attending talks, and conversing on such topics, I learned a term called “post-truth,” where one accepts or rejects truth according to one’s own preference.

I learned that making truth subjective—as so many are tempted to do when faced with tough questions—emptied truth of its very definition.

During my quest to learn truth, I began to understand Paul’s prayer in Philippians: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” (Philippians 1:9-10, emphasis added).

Knowledge. Insight. Discernment. Knowing Biblical truth became even more important when opportunities arose to share it—notably when America legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, and during a terrorist attack in 2016 that shook the UK.

Love compels us to share the truth, so let’s be encouraged to learn the truth.

 

N—Never Walk Alone

I am thankful for my prayer partner in the UK—a Canadian-Cantonese girl with a beautiful smile and love for the Lord. Our conversations brought clarity for me on tough issues. And though we did not have all the answers, we encouraged each other to learn God’s perspective on issues, and to communicate such truths coherently and lovingly.

For these reasons, I would encourage every Christian to approach and walk with someone like-minded in a desire to grow in Christ. As “two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10), such accountability and journeying together in the faith can encourage us toward loving God with our minds.

It was an arduous and lonely journey praying for my non-Christian friends and learning how to address their questions. However, this journey became so much more bearable when I shared my burdens with my Christian friends and they prayed for us.

 

D—Dig into Credible Resources

Evangelist John Sung was known to read only the Bible and newspaper every day. He knew the dual importance of knowing Scripture and its relevance in his cultural and spiritual climate.

Similarly, I encourage us to be well-informed, critical-thinking Christians who know our Bibles and how it relates to current issues. We can do so by wisely selecting resources that: (a) clarify Scripture with Scripture, (b) are in-line with Scripture and (c) reliably inform us of our times today—with truth, objectivity, and credibility (see the list below for some examples). Personally, I found it helpful to install reliable news apps on my phone and ensure I only read books and articles from credible authors, including those from varying perspectives.

This has humbled me to adopt a more teachable attitude. Once, a friend asked why Christians were advised to marry only other Christians. Instead of attempting to “win” the argument, I chose to ask for her thoughts on it. As it turns out, she had a personal story and feelings of resentment which led to her believing the Bible was “narrow-minded” on the issue. And after acknowledging her feelings of hurt and confusion, I was able to eventually win the right to share with her the Bible’s perspective on the issue, which brought her clarity.

Keeping abreast of what is credible and current for a number of issues has helped me to be better informed and equipped to participate meaningfully in faith and cultural dialogues—to listen to the questioner behind the question, and to seek common ground instead of “winning” an argument. From there, I can build bridges and eventually win the right to speak into another’s life.

 

I am thankful to God for bringing me on this journey of growth and helping me to come to know my faith, the person I put my faith in, and how my faith fits in with the times. Though we live in uncertain times, we can take heart that the truths in Scripture are unchanging. Because of that, we can put our hope in these truths, for: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8).

Loving God with our minds is a lifelong journey involving focus, discipline, ownership, and accountability. Above all, it is a meaningful journey with the eternal benefits of knowing God more and more—a joyous journey indeed!

 

Recommended Resources for Loving the Lord with all our Minds:

  • The Bible—our foremost resource with no substitute for it!
  • For understanding the entire Bible:
    • Unlocking the Bible, by David Pawson.
    • God’s Big Picture, by Vaughan Roberts.
    • “The Bible Project,” Bible themes and Bible book overview infographic videos, co-founded by Tim Mackie.
    • Quest Study Bible: The Question and Answer Bible, a Bible published by Zondervan and Christianity Today featuring questions and answers as you read through the Bible.
  • On the reliability of the Bible:
    • More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.
    • Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell.
    • The Case for Christ book series, by Lee Strobel.
  • For knowing the times and culture of today:
    • On truth and morality: The Reason for God, a book by Timothy Keller. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, a book by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.
    • On suffering: Why Suffering?, a book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale. What Good is God?, by Philip Yancey.
    • On post-truth: Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World, by Abdu Murray. True for You but Not for Me, by Paul Copan.
    • On sexuality: Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality, by Michael L. Brown.
    • On the sanctity of life: The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture, by Scott Klusendorf.
    • On science and religion: Can Science Explain Everything?, by John Lennox.
    • On the prosperity gospel: “Six Keys to Detecting the Prosperity Gospel,” podcast by John Piper (Desiring God Ministries).
    • On hyper-grace: Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, by Michael L. Brown
  • On doubts within the Christian faith:
    • Why People Stop Believing, by Paul Chamberlain
    • Disappointment with God, by Philip Yancey