"In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves."
I loved the devotional that went along with this:
"God is not against human effort. Hard work honors God. But working to the exclusion of rest or to the neglect of family may be a cover-up for an inability to trust God to provide for our needs. We all need adequate rest and times of spiritual refreshment. On the other hand, this verse is not an excuse to be lazy. Be careful to maintain a balance: work while trusting God, and also rest while trusting him."
We work and work and work, trying to provide for ourselves. And we work and exhaust ourselves to the exclusion of Christ. We do this for several reasons:
1) we think we have to provide for ourselves, alone, or that God won't provide everything we need.
2) we think we are essential - that work won't get done if we don't do it ourselves. By the way, you Martha's out there (of which I am one too), this applies not only to work, but to our family and church activities.
3) we seek to be exhausted and busy because of the distraction that it provides. If we're too tired and or busy, then we think we don't miss or notice that God-sized whole so much.
All of these lead to exhaustion, often hopelessness. This is a symptom of our priorities not being aligned with His.
Even when we toil at God's work, why are we destroying ourselves? Is it for Him, and we do this out of sacrificial devotion? Or, more likely, are we killing ourselves because one of the reasons above? Or maybe were not trying to please God, but we're trying to please those we work with. We think that we must earn the respect of our peers and coworkers by pushing ourselves so hard. Part of me does take pride in the fact that I'm often the first one in the office, and the last one out. Pat of me wants to be known as someone who really pushes themselves, expects more from themselves.
But I know when I am exhausted at the end of the work day, the first thing I want to do is not pray, read my Bible, or meditate on God's word. It's usually along the lines of feeding my face and watching Hulu. And the more I tire myself at work, the more I want to stuff myself with chips and tv. It's like I seek to achieve balance not by taking things away, but by overloading my plate until I'm equally extreme in everything I'm doing.
God wants us to have balance. He doesn't want us so exhausted we cant worship Him or enjoy the things He's put on earth for us to enjoy. What reason are we using to exhaust ourselves? What part of our day are we not leaving to God to provide for us on?
It's my prayer for myself that I find this balance. When I'm exhausted I can only focus on myself and how to relieve that exhaustion. I can't focus focus on others and that's a problem. I hate myself for not being more focused on others, which in turn makes it harder for me to pour out love on others if I can't love myself as well.
The question is this: are we too exhausted to love?