Follow our founder on Twitter or Facebook! - Help us spread the word by clicking or TwitThis on any page to tell your friends!

RM Homepage
Shop and Books
Socialize with Others
Contact us

New Window

Click below for web pages

Chronic Illness - Chronic Pain Articles Available to Read and Reprint

When Exhaustion From Your Chronic Illness Takes Over Your Life

By Lisa Copen

One of the hardest things in which to adjust when one is diagnosed with a chronic illness is the fatigue that accompanies it. It is an exhaustion that I had never experienced until I was diagnosed with a chronic illness a few years ago. I was relieved to be diagnosed, believing that having a name for my fatigue and pain would validate those days when I move a little slower at work. I hoped that people would stop saying, "Smile!" or "You sure look tired today." If I tried to explain that my illness tended to make me tired, they would respond, "Oh, I'm tired too. I had a late night." Is there any way to explain that my tired is different than their tired?

The word exhaust is from the Latin root word, which means "to draw out." We may often experience that feeling of being "used up" or "having nothing left." It's scary when you realize that you may likely never have the kind of energy you once did.

Remember, just because we may be tired does not mean that we are weak or ineffective in our ministry for God. He can work through us even when we are exhausted. So, what do we do when we just can't do it all?

(1) We can accept the help of others. When we are used to doing it all for ourselves and others too, it's difficult to ask for help or to accept it when it's offered. We need to let go of finding our value in what we can accomplish for ourselves (like how big a dinner party we can throw and how much of the house we can clean). Instead, we need to consider what God wants us to accomplish.

When the Israelite army was attacked by the Amalekites, (Exodus 17: 8-15) Moses said he would stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hands. As long as Moses held his hands up to God, the Israelites were winning, but when he let them fall, the Amalekites began to win. So was Moses able to pull through the long hours holding up his hands? Not without the help of Aaron and Hur.

"When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other-so that his hands remained steady till sunup" (v. 12). God's power was flowing through the fingertips of Moses, and yet God still allowed Moses' arms to become tired. Was that so Moses had to accept help? What would have happened if Moses had said, "Don't worry about it, guys. I can handle it. Go on down the hill and I'll come later when I finish this battle." God was able to work through Moses when Moses accepted the help of others.

(2) Know that true strength comes only from God. "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40: 29-31).

As I was talking with a friend the other day, she remarked how, before her illness, she was an extremely busy person, on the go wanting to do it all and more. God has slowed her down. She has been forced to change her lifestyle, and yet she has grown closer to God because of it. When God gives strength to the weary, he doesn't promise where we will feel that strength. It may be in our relationship with him or others and not in our body. Only He knows what is perfect and what we truly need.

(3) We can realize that God is able to work in our lives despite our exhaustion. One of the most often-told bible stories is of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well. She became a believer and left to follow Jesus. Her testimony to others brought many people to God. How did Jesus meet this woman? "Jesus was tired from his journey and sat down by the well." (v. 6).

Even Jesus became tired. He wanted to sit down to rest and have some water, and God used His son's fatigue to bring many people to know Him. God can use us under any circumstances if we will allow him the opportunity. It may not be in the way we would like. We probably won't have a bungy jumping ministry, but God will work out His plan for our lives in His timing. It's just so hard to wait and see what that plan is!

(4) We need to take comfort in the fact that God never tires. Thank goodness we have such a wonderful God, and that He will never grow weary. You may remember as a child, your father coming home from a long day at work. He would walk in the door looking tired, but as soon as you ran through the house, yelling, "Daddy's home! Daddy's home!" his weary eyes would begin to sparkle, and soon he had plenty of energy to play until you went to bed. We all have those days where we want to put the covers over our head and not get up. Some of us have days where we would like to get up, but our broken bodies won't allow it. We must stay put.

During these times, it's especially comforting to know that our God will never be bedridden; He will never put the covers over His head and say, "I can't deal with my children today." "The Lord God is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary." (Isaiah 40: 28). When I am truly tired, my eyes crave darkness and stillness; my body longs for the warm comforts of my grandmother's quilt.

Perhaps the hardest thing to accept is that even if these longings are fulfilled, I will still awake wishing for more sleep, never feeling refilled. Spiritually, however, I can be filled by going to God and asking for His comfort, His strength, and the renewal of my spirit. When I go to the Father and am filled with his peace, I can find rest that no amount of sleep will ever replace. "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8).

Get a free download of 200 ways to reach out to someone who is hurting from Beyond Caseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend when you sign up for hopenotes, a monthly ezine. Author of this article, Lisa Copen is also the founder of Rest Ministries and National Invisible Illness Awareness Week.





Don't forget! This article can be reprinted for free or syndicate Lisa's new articles.