This article is designed to explore the frustration and bewilderment we can experience in burnout. We have chosen to discuss those frustrations rather than simply answer the questions with technical answers.
Why would God allow these things to happen when we are seeking Him as never before in our lives? Why do the scriptural promises not seem to materialize when our focus is on Him, our guidance and direction are from Him and our desire is to please Him with involvement in His work? Why would God leave us? Why would we devote our life to worshipping a God we can no longer understand?
Why? Perhaps the most profound question human beings ever ask. We go through life with a whole series of expectations - for us, for others and for God. When we don’t measure up to our expectations we react along a spectrum from complete denial, to blaming everyone else. When others don’t measure up to our expectations, we may become disappointed or even angry with them. When God doesn’t measure up to our expectations we can become cynical, bitter and caustic. We want life to work. Period. End of statement. We do what we think God requires, and God is supposed to hold up His end and make our life work our way. When it appears like He is gone on vacation and doesn’t care about us, we ask why with a curl of our lip.
From God’s point of view life does work - His way. Our burnout is designed to purge us of all that disappoints us and to bring our focus back around to Him. When life works God’s way we may spend a lot of time in the bottom of a dry well and then be sold into slavery in Egypt, or we may spend many years in prision on the Isle of Patmos with no soft mattress to sleep on in our old age. Either way, life works - God’s way - for our good!
How could other Christians behave so unChrist-like and still claim to be led of Him by the Holy Spirit? How could a God of love give us stones when we ask for bread and He has promised us the desires of our heart? How is God going to bring forth good out of this evil situation when we are driven from Him in disappointment, despair and disillusionment? How can we trust our life to God ever again?
In other words, how can we go on when our unfulfilled expectations have taken us to complete disillusionment. Nothing appears to have worked, no matter how hard we tried to live the Christian walk. We don’t know if we can trust God tomorrow because of what He allowed to happen to us today. But, this is good is it not? The Gospel is God’s message unto eternal life. If death seems to be all around us and inside of us destroying us, then we have flaws in our belief system - and asking why with great boldness is a good exercise in strong reality.
What is the purpose and plan of God in this situation? What in the world is life all about?
To some these questions are far too simple. But, to the burned out and spiritually bankrupt, these are not simple at all. Burnout makes you stop and re-think everything in your belief system - and that’s good. If these questions cause the ministry leader to closely examine his understanding of the Gospel it is a very good thing.
When does it end? When does this journey through the valley of the shadow of death come out on the other side? When will we desire to get close to other ‘Christians’ again? When will we have implicit trust in God again?
Yes, there is a future - if you choose it. Some won’t, but most will. After Father leads you to a whole new relationship with Jesus. That’s why at Smoldering Wick Ministries we believe in mentoring leaders in Tree of Life living and walking in the new way of the Spirit as opposed to the old way of the better life of blessings.
Where is the Lord when He is needed? Where is the destination God has in mind? Where is hope? Where is healing? Where is a whole, sound and healthy spirit, mind and body? Where is life? Where is the joy of the Lord? Where is God’s love, comfort and strength? Where is the switch to shut down the fiery furnace?
It has always amazed me, as a Canadian living in America, how the American version of the Gospel is so focused on this life. The here and now, and how it should be an endless succession of blessings, fun, joy, and endless prosperity. At times it seems the American church has lost the idea of growth and character building through trials and suffering. This life is bootcamp for eternity, and it is a priviledge to partake in the sufferings of Jesus. The answer to the above questions on “where” is - in heaven, and if your first place passion is on a relationship with Jesus and not a list of blessings you probably can experience some of those things in this life!
Who can restore to us the years that the locust, the cankerworm, the caterpillar and the palmerworm have eaten? Who can bind up our broken hearts, proclaim liberty to us captives and open our prisons? Who can give unto us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness? Who calls us trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord? Who declares that we bring Him glory? Who describes us as precious gold and rare, priceless jewels? Who has given us sonship and life everlasting?
Jesus Christ the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, our personal savior, best friend, and the one who allows the blessing of burnout to come upon us to bring us back on track!
When all else fails, WAIT! Again I say, WAIT upon the Lord! WAIT!