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Today’s Truth

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat (Mark 6:31, NKJ).

Friend to Friend

If I had a warning sign on my forehead, it might have flashed these messages:

Fresh out. Give me room, people. Nothing more to give.

There were a lot of needs and I was juggling. I was tired and cranky, but I kept on going—until one day I realized it’s almost impossible to give anything good out of an empty well.

Maybe, like I once did, you ignore those signs too. You may even consider yourself strong. After all, you don’t let anything stop you. At least, until you can’t take one more step.

In today’s verse, we find Jesus and the disciples after a busy and successful time of ministry. He recognized their fatigue and also their human need for food and rest.

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

In their excitement, these disciples may have continued working. In their desire to meet the needs of others, they may have ignored the fact they needed rest and food. Jesus, however, didn’t ignore it. While He cared about the crowd, He showed by example that a balance of work and rest help us better love the people around us.

Not everything that seems important, is.

A friend of mine told me about a season where she ignored sleep. She stayed up night after night taking care of all the little things that didn’t get handled during the day. She felt like a robot as she moved through the morning and into the afternoon. She had dark circles under her eyes. Her thinking was foggy. Her body was sending distress signals, asking her to slow down.

God is a Master Creator. Just as Jesus tuned to the disciples to tell them, “You need rest,” our bodies let us know when it’s time to slow down.

My friend realized she was on her way to burnout. She stopped working at a specific time in the evening. She acknowledged the accomplishments of her day, instead of beating herself up for what was left on the list. She gave herself permission to view sleep as important as folding that last load of laundry or tackling that last set of to-dos.

Pay attention to the warning signs.

If Jesus recognized the signs of fatigue and “empty” with His disciples, we can ask Him to help us see them too.

  • If a small event creates a big reaction internally or externally, there’s a good chance we need to fill back up.
  • If we say yes to whatever comes our way, but it makes us feel resentful, then it might be time to assess and re-prioritize.
  • If we feel guilty about our need to rest or refuel because we are always focused on the next person or the next task we need to tackle, we may be out of balance.

We are going to ask our bodies to perform at a pretty high level for seven or more decades. Pouring out is good. In fact, it’s one of the most beautiful things we get to do. Pouring back in, resting, giving ourselves permission to sleep at night, recognizing when we are stressed and adjusting or asking for help — that’s important too.

If you’ve been trying to do it all and all the signs are flashing “empty,” this may be your special invitation:

Come aside, sister, and rest a while.

Let’s Pray

Jesus, I am a doer and I sometimes find that I am out of balance. Help me to recognize the signs that I’m approaching empty. Thank you for the privilege of pouring out, and also the invitation to pour back in.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

As you say yes to rest, resist the temptation to compare yourself to others. While some thrive under 12-hour days and deadlines, others don’t. You are uniquely made. As you prayerfully look at your own life, these questions may be helpful:

  • What is your body telling you?
  • Are there changes that need to be made, and what does that look like?
  • What is one way to build in rest?

More from the Girlfriends

In Chapter 3, of Suzanne’s book, JoyKeeper: 6 Truths That Change Everything You Thought You Knew About Joy, Suzie reminds us that when we put down assignments or roles that are not ours, we are free to step fully into what is. Uncover the joy stealers that try to crop up when we try to do it all, so you can uncover the truth that helps you find your assignment.

© 2021 by Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

9 Responses to “When You Are About to Hit Empty”

  1. Kathy Sherwood Orser says:

    My body reacts physically to the stress I have lived with since 2015. I have buried both of my parents after a few bouts with cancer. I have a child with a mental illness, supported a family member dealing with an alcoholic husband who died in 2019 and my husband had cancer in 2019 as well. My job was eliminated in March of 2020 – not COVID related and my new job is hard to adjust too. I am a caregiver to 2 special needs adults and we struggle financially all the time. I am empty physically and emotionally, I never say no, I never stop worrying about those in my circle and I know I am dealing with a burn out. I truly loved this devotion and those verses have been my rock.

  2. THogue says:

    Thank you for this reminder.

  3. Suzie Eller says:

    Lord, I come alongside my sister in Christ today. She is exhausted inside and out. Her heart hurts. She’s faced an incredible amount of loss. I pray for healing over those tired places. I pray for hope. I pray for help. I pray for restoration and surprising joy and peace that cannot be taken from her. Give her what she cannot do on her own. Pour out your Holy Spirit over her, Lord, and breathe life into and over her. I pray that you will give her the rest you talked about in Matthew 11:28-30. In Jesus’ name.

  4. Carol says:

    Amen,Suzie!
    This subject is something that God and I, are working on!
    As a former business owner, I juggled and multi-tasked w-a-y too many things in my daily life. God “blessed” me with a couple of years, before 2020, to show me that a BIG change was coming. I have learned how to “find my chair” time and sit with my devotionals and the Word, like I’ve never done before!
    Is my daily schedule perfect? No. But, God knows my heart. He knows my flawed personality and the fact that my former life style was a bad habit.
    God does direct our lives and is always working to correct our messy, human-ness!
    Thank you ,for this posting. I know the peace I feel when I read, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” Jesus knows how much work it takes to live life to it’s fullest. He also, knows we need to quietly abide in His peace, too.

  5. Elaine says:

    How can you help a sister who is operating on empty. How can you pour into a person when they are out of everything in the spiritual sense?

    • Suzie Eller says:

      What a great question, Elaine. I love Dr. Sandra Dalton’s book on rest. She says that we try to recompense rest in ways that doesn’t fill us up. For example, we are tired but it’s an emotional or spiritual tiredness, and trying to fill that up with bodily rest doesn’t do it. When we’ve poured out emotionally for a friend, we need to emotionally fill up with whatever brings us peace or joy — that might be a walk in nature or a time of connection with a healthy friend. When we pour out spiritually, we need filling back up in that way. It might be a time of worship with no pressure other than to simply let those words pour over our heart and lead us to His presence. It may be a godly friend praying over you, or taking a walk in nature and noticing the craftsmanship and beauty of God’s handiwork. It’s stopping — not going further — until some of what has been pouring out comes back in.

      Lord, I pray for Elaine that she’ll sense you close. You love her. You see her. You are her Source. Be that water promised in Matthew 11:28 to the weary. Pour out over her, around her, and within her, in Jesus’ name.

  6. Macy says:

    Thank you for being obedient to the Lord and writing this devotion. I am a high school student, yet I am always busy morning to midnight. My body has physically and spiritually been drained time after time. I would just breathe a sigh of relief during holidays from school bc that meant I could finally rest. Unfortunately, my bad habits have continued during holidays now too. So here I am, writing this post at 11:54 at night, asking that whoever sees this will pray for me to be obedient to my savior’s plan for my body’s pouring out and pouring back in. Pray that I can truly prioritize sleep so I can be an efficient servant for Christ!

    • Suzie Eller says:

      Lord, thank you for Macy. Father, we all battle to some degree with this, especially when it’s so easy to pick up our phone and become engrossed. Help her to rest physically, spiritually, and in every other way. Help her to put down anything that distracts from that rest. Speak peace over her heart and over her body. In Jesus’ name.

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