As I dug into the second chapter of this book, I was really drawn in by the chapter's title "Lord, Don't You Care?" This chapter centered around the passage of the Mary/Martha story in Luke 10:40 - Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
We've all felt the loneliness, frustration, left-out-ness and resentment Martha experienced - doing all that work for others when no one seems to notice or care. Life isn't "fair", but that's exactly what we want it to be when we're feeling underwhelmed and under-appreciated. We want the recognition and appreciation we feel we deserve. Constantly feeding that need to work and work and work some more is what can truly contribute to a physical and/or emotional burnout. This applies to daily work, friendships, charity work, ministry positions, etc.
Joanna Weaver outlined 5 Unrealistic Expectations that can contribute to burnout in her second chapter:
#1 - There shouldn't be limits to what I can do
#2 - I have the capacity to help everyone
#3 - I am the only person available to help
#4 - I must never make a mistake
#5 - I have the ability to change another person
Exodus 18:17-18 echoes this sentiment, "What you are doing is not good...You will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."
Satan has always used the same tactics to get our eyes off God an onto our circumstances instead. Distraction, discouragement and doubt - those are the steps we can easily fall into as we get overwhelmed and put unrealistic expectations on ourselves instead of focusing on God in our day-to-day lives.
Satan always begins with distraction. Martha's pursuits were hardly trivial. Her preparations were important and could even be considered as ministry. However, her "ministry" and expectations overwhelmed her and it alienated her. Rather than doing things "unto the Lord", she settled for just getting things done. That's when the weight of discouragement can set in.
I don't know about you, but when I'm distracted, discouragement is just around the corner. It breaks down our perspective and defenses, telling us we are useless, hopeless and abandoned. Elijah's story in I Kings 18 is a great example of this. He wallowed so far down into self-pity that he begged God to let him die. And it all began with discouragement.
One thing that I find so hard to remember sometimes is that when I am distracted, discouraged, tired and overwhelmed - there is no better place to go than to my Heavenly Father. Instead, I often choose to hid in a session of self-pity...which never really seems to help.
One of the Bible verses I've always clung to (and some days need to be reminded of!) is Deuteronomy 31:8 - The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.
The answer to Martha's questions, "Lord, don't you care?" is simple. He will always answer us, He will always care, even though it may not come in the way we expect. All we have to do is take those worries, those hurts to Him instead of holding them close and letting them turn to fear and doubt in our own heads.