The Power of Exhaustion

I’m going back through Nehemiah and I was so struck by this passage: Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” Neh 4:8 (NIV)

You have to look at the context to see the significance–the Israelites have already overcome various obstacles: God provided them with materials. They’ve gotten threats and ridicule from the enemy, but have stayed faithful in the midst. But then the thing that breaks their camel’s back is exhaustion.

Speaking as someone with chronic fatigue, exhaustion is, well, exhausting. And frankly, sometimes I start feeling like “being tired” isn’t enough of an excuse to say “no” or to let housework slide. Obviously, sometimes God calls us to push on through exhaustion, like the Israelites, and sometimes it’s a signal that we should slow down (see Jesus with His disciples or God’s treatment of Elijah).

In any event, it was encouraging to me to see exhaustion as its own special brand of struggle. It validates how hard it is, and reminded me that slogging through my exhaustion to do the work God’s called me to is possible.

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