January 23, 2017

HOLY TOAST – Adrenal Fatigue and the Church

Exhaustion by Flickr Lee J Haywood

As an itinerant minister, I have the opportunity of meeting people of varying color, creed and country.  In the last 10 years, I have found one over arching commonality… exhaustion!  Let’s look at the Oxford dictionary’s definition of exhaustion. It is, well…exhaustive!

Exhaustion:

  1. Tired out, worn out, weary, dead-tired, dog-tired, bone-tired, ready to drop, drained, fatigued, enervated; (informal) beat, done in, all in, bushed, zonked, bagged, knocked out, wiped out, burned out, pooped, tuckered out, tapped out, fried, whipped.
  2. Exhausted reserves used up, consumed, finished, spent, depleted, empty, drained.

As I was reading this amusing, lengthy definition, it dawned on me that it was merely a list of symptoms, not the root cause. This “old school” term, exhaustion, was missing a prefix that explained everything… adrenal exhaustion!

The adrenal glands are two small glands (about the size of a walnut, weighing less than a grape) that sit atop the kidneys. So, when these tiny glands are depleted by physical or emotional stress, overwork, fear, trauma, etc, the body experiences, chronic fatigue, poor sleep, inability to deal with stress, B vitamin deficiency, difficulty concentrating/brain fog and even food or environmental allergies.

God’s Safety Net

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Recall the story of Elijah, after he had successfully defeated the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. There was a huge display of the power of God. But when Jezebel, who was just one person, threatened to kill him, Elijah panicked and ran. He had just had a high stress situation, and he was depleted of all strength. So, even though he had a victory, his body could not handle any more stress. Consider the possibility that he was undergoing temporary adrenal fatigue!  God had to take care of him by a brook and sent birds with food to feed him, until he recovered.  You, too, will recover with God’s help! He knows exactly what you need!

Considering the genius of God, I find it amazing that He has left Man, His “crowning achievement,” totally vulnerable to a pair of tiny glands. As with everything our Heavenly Father does, love is the motivator for this vulnerability.

Let me explain; have you ever looked at the back of your office computer, copy machine, printer or flat screen television? There is a tiny little fuse or circuit breaker that protects the machine from damage due to power surges, lightning strikes or polarity issues.

In the same way, our adrenal glands function as a circuit breaker that when depleted, slows the body down before any permanent damage is done.

Christians find this hard to believe, but there is just as much “burn out” within the four walls of the church as there is without. As I mentioned earlier, it is an over arching commonality, truth be told, that the world is full of “quick fried Cretans” and  “crunchy Christians.”

It is extremely difficult to get a chronically fatigued unbeliever to listen to you, if you are a chronically fatigued believer. People are looking for answers, not more questions. Lets examine some of the reasons why Christians crumble even though Jesus lives in their heart.

Works

With all the need in the world, it is important that we “stay in our own lane” and be faithful to the work God has given us to do. Remember, just because something is “good” doesn’t mean it is God!

Illusion

When we assume that because we are Christians, our bodies are impervious to overwork, stress, vitamin deficiency and exhaustion.

Remember, our “earth suits” are not glorified bodies, they are simply carriers of His glory.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Self-righteousness

We would do well to remember the prophet Elijah’s trip to Horeb. Elijah did not flee to Horeb because God called him, he ran because he was afraid. Elijah was afraid Jezebel would kill him, he also thought he was the only righteous prophet God had left. When Elijah reached Horeb, God asked him a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah answered,

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” 1 Kings 19:14

When God asks you a question, He expects a truthful answer! If you read the whole story, after a powerful demonstration of power (tornado, earthquake, fire and a still, small voice), God tells Elijah He was only in the still small voice.

Then, God gives Elijah another chance to answer His question; “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Sadly, Elijah gives God the same self-righteous answer as before and it spells the end for Elijah’s earthly ministry. God ends the conversation with this statement,

”Yet, I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18

Remember, self-righteousness and fear can take you on a perilous journey you were never called to, such as adrenal exhaustion.

The Turning Point

Now, lets find a prescription for our disease.

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