January 6, 2021
Staying Devoted When Our Souls Are Depleted
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"...‘If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.' He said this about the Spirit." John 7:37-39a (HCSB)
Before 2020, I would have told you I was already in a state of emotional crisis. I was at my breaking point.
Among other things, I was struggling with burnout. Now, there are different levels of exhaustion. There's "stretched thin," "tired of the daily grind," or "in need of an extended vacation." I was way past that, even two years ago. Suddenly, the fuel of passion that had filled my tank and kept me going for a decade in ministry was merely fumes. Working a full-time job - while homeschooling and self-quarantining with no end in sight - left me depleted.
Burnout reminded me of the time I ran out of gas late one night on a near-empty highway between two small towns. My cellphone battery was dead, the red gas light had been staring at me for miles, and there was no gas station in sight. If you've ever found yourself parking your car on the side of the road and walking to the nearest gas station, you know what I'm talking about.
I remember the moment the car started to slow down, even though I was flooring the gas pedal. Picture me stomping the gas pedal in futility, and keep in mind it was a metaphor for what my life became. There was simply nothing left in the tank.
What did your life look like before all the unexpectedness of 2020? Were you struggling with something already hard enough? Me too.
In spite of burnout and grief over ruined plans, I have had to find a way to carry on. But I didn't find the willpower or some reservoir of resilience. Not even close. Remember, my tank was already empty. Instead, I was forced to rely on God's real-time presence for forward motion.
When Jesus explained to His disciples He would be leaving earth, His disciples panicked. (John 14:1-5) Several times in the Gospels, it seems as if the disciples were just starting to understand the ways of God's Kingdom, inaugurated through Jesus, their ever-present help in time of need. But if Jesus was "going away," how would they survive?
In our passage, He promises the Holy Spirit, the great Counselor, and says the Spirit will be with His followers forever. (vv. 16-18) Jesus does not abandon us like orphans in a cruel world. He ensures God's presence will never leave us because of the Holy Spirit's indwelling power in our lives. (vv. 25-28)
If we feel stuck, overwhelmed or riddled with doubts, the Spirit is with us and will fill our tanks. "...‘If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.' He said this about the Spirit" (John 7:37-39a).
If we see no way forward and lack the energy to try again, the Spirit is with us. More importantly, the Spirit does not suffer burnout or depletion. To experience the Holy Spirit is to enjoy resurrection power, the same power that conquered death and sin, living in you and sustaining you through every impossible circumstance.
You and I have an incredible invitation from Jesus that we can take hold of when we feel depleted.
God, I feel depleted. Help me replenish my weary soul by Your Holy Spirit's power. Make me more aware of Your presence, and help me carry on in devotion to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 42:1-2a, "As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." (NRSV)
Psalm 36:7-9, "How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light." (NRSV)
For a hope-filled guide to overcome feelings of confusion, uncertainty or even despair, grab a copy of Kat Armstrong's book, The In-Between Place: Where Jesus Changes My Story.
Sharing our struggles in authentic communities is one of the most effective ways to stay devoted to Christ when we feel depleted. That's why Kat Armstrong co-founded The Polished Network to serve and support women navigating faith and work. Connect with other women through prayer and free Scripture-focused digital resources.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What area of your life feels most depleted?
What about your life would look different if you allowed the Holy Spirit to replenish that area? Let us know in the comments section!
© 2021 by Kat Armstrong. All rights reserved.