My father had master's
degrees in both theology and counseling along with decades of
experience helping people. In a conversation we had, he once quoted
an old saying to me. He said, "Life is difficult."
No one escapes some bumps and bruises in life, because we live
in a fallen world. The Bible tells us that the devil is the god
of this world (2nd
Cor. 4:4). And the devil is a cruel, mean, evil, and unfair
So regardless of
the type of difficult, hurtful, or challenging problems that have
come into a believer's life, our Heavenly Father is not the author
of it. (Remember, the Garden
of Eden was a wonderful life until Satan
came in!) Therefore, we can go to God with our problems, and He
can help us recover. This is the reason there is hope for those
who have been through disappointment, discouragement, and burnout.
42:3 (NAS) says, "A bruised reed He will not break,
and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish."
Sometimes people feel like they are just barely hanging on. The
devil tries to snuff them out any way he can quickly or
slowly depending on the disposition of the person. But
God wants to help every one of His children heal up into robust
spiritual and emotional health if we will go to Him for
His help and follow His instructions.
The first goal is
to stop slipping deeper into despair, depression, apathy, or emotional
numbness. These situations are characterized by a lack of emotional
energy. The emotional energy is drained away much like a car battery
can go dead. It can happen slowly over time because a light is
left burning. Or it can happen fast because of a direct short.
Burnout (and its
slightly less severe condition called burndown) result from a
depletion of the stored, happy experiences in the emotional reserve
within our soul. Unhappy experiences drain this emotional "battery"
slowly if we are not having enough happy experiences to charge
it back up. In addition, a study by the Minirth/Meier
Clinics showed that unforgiveness was the most common element
in the lives of patients being counseled for burnout. Unforgiveness
is like a "direct short" to the emotional battery within
us it drains people faster and further to the point that
many have had to seek professional counseling.
Many people do not
realize they have unforgiveness. But the "symptoms"
of the "disease" are anger, resentment, and bitterness.
These attitudes might be towards others that have hurt us (whether
living or dead) or even toward God! But these "direct shorts"
of unforgiveness in our emotional batteries will drain us of the
life-giving energy that God wants for each believer.
is a choice that benefits us, not them. They will be accountable
to God for their own actions receiving the consequences
in this life and eternity. But we must forgive if we want to stop
being tormented by the various problems that can plague a person's
18:34-35). We forgive others through our words and actions.
First, we pray a prayer verbally telling God we forgive them.
Second, we demonstrate it through our actions. Forgiving people
doesn't mean we have to trust them, or even spend time with them.
But if we do communicate with them, it will be pleasant and kind
rather than being terse, angry, or silent.
After a person stops
the emotional depletion, then the second goal is to replenish
the soul with positive experiences. This may mean making some
deliberate, thought-through decisions and changes in one's life.
(Get my free book, How to be Led By the Spirit,
Volume One.) Care needs to be exercised to not
do anything foolish or rash. But most people can make changes
to stop the hurting and help the healing.
The first and most
important area is positive spiritual help. Being a part of a life-giving
church each week is most valuable. Even more important is daily
devotional time with God. Reading in Psalms
is good, especially in the Living Bible paraphrase
translation. The motive is not to impress God or perform better.
It is to just have time with our Heavenly Father and receive spiritual
strength and nourishment from His Word. In prayer, devotional
communication (telling Him how we feel) is often more valuable
than presenting petitions (asking for things). And a valuable
step in prayer is to tell God we are giving Him our hurts, problems,
frustrations, or anger. He can literally take those things if
we give them to Him.
Next, a person's
diet can affect their energy, attitudes, and motivation. There
are critical chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine
that are essential to normal nerve activity in the brain. And
of course, regular vitamins and minerals are necessary for all
normal functions in the body. And nobody should say "McDonalds"
if we are looking for robust nutrition. We have to expend effort
to get healthy, nutritionally balanced meals.
Another key to recovery
and prevention is just plain old fun. Some Christians don't think
fishing or playing baseball is spiritual. But it was God's idea
to require a Sabbath
rest from work. Of course, some people are lazy and need a revelation
that they should work! But most people suffering from disappointment
and burnout need to take time off. Jesus Himself demonstrated
this when he heard his cousin was beheaded (John
the Baptist). He took His disciples away from the crowds for
rest and recovery (Mark
6:27-32). Persons in people-helping professions need this
time off even more because of the constant pain and problems they
One trap to avoid
is the trend in our fallen society for entertainment that has
shifted from "re-creation" to "wreck-creation."
God's plan for recreation is to re-create peace, joy, and happiness.
The world's "entertainment" is filled with sin, violence,
anger, fear, and other stress producing elements causing people
who are seeking "fun" to become emotional wrecks! What
we watch, listen to, and do will make all the difference
in the world (Mark
Having run out of
space, let me say I have many more powerful insights into emotional
health with practical applications in several related teaching
tapes, as well as a free booklet written by my father titled,
Keys to Mental and Emotional Health: The Great Discovery
of Karl & Will Menninger. And my prayer for
you is Psalm
22:5 (NAS), "To Thee they cried out, and
were delivered; in Thee they trusted and were not disappointed."
P.S. In all
honesty, God has granted me tremendous revelations from His Word
which He wants me to share with others. Please do not under-estimate
the power and benefit of these teaching materials.