NOTE: A While ago I sent out a note on dealing with burnout that was a second in a series and just now find out the first note never went out so here it is and I’ll resend the other tomorrow so the blog isn’t impossibly long.

Note from a fellow struggler: “Sometimes I feel life is not worth living. It’s not that I am trying to do something to hurt myself or anything like that, it is just that my thoughts get very dark at times.I am having a hard time living in the reality of who I am in Christ. Because of my work hours I find it hard to hope, plan, dream. When I do, and my work schedule prevents me from doing what I dream and plan to do, I go dark. I even begin to have bad thoughts about my wife, kids and grandkids (that I don’t have yet.) Not only is it the long hours of work, but the exhaustion that I feel once I get home. All Saturday is gone, and I do not feel revived until about Sunday evening. Then I do it all over again.How do you dream, and hope and plan a life?I know I have some “stinking thinking” going on here, I just don’t know what to do about it. I’m wondering how do I get to the point of 2Cor.4:16-18.?”

Some thoughts that come to mind on the classic condition that caring godly people so often find themselves in.

When we are burned out, one needs to look at several areas.

First it is worth noting that burnout is not as bad a place to be as it would seem. If one is not burned out, one is either living in the practical principles of the Word : or one has learned to simply not care, living life in a fog of sleep, eating, drive to work, work without thinking, drive home, eat, escape into fantasy land of TV or video games then sleep and repeat. OR one has managed to blame everything on others letting ourselves off the hook, OR one has a “successful” balance of getting drunk or escaping into other ways of drowning out the painful reality, OR one has disappeared into an area of performance that has less emotional stress such as workaholism, OR one is tense and hanging in there and will burn out sooner or late: OR you are loving the Lord, His word, His ways, His people, his ministries; yet have not found the balance of resting in him as you yield yourself moment by moment.  So burnout is a whole lot better than trying to be OK by not caring. In fact most godly men in the scriptures and in the history of the kingdom of God have FIRST burned out, THEN  learned to rest and THEN God has done great things through them.

Second you should consider the possibility of a medical cause. Have you checked for thyroid, anemia, sugar etc?

Third your approach to life, as noted in your email suggests that you have some “heart” chatter that is guaranteed to result in spending your neurotransmitters faster than you can replace them. Your responses are understandable and usual but can not be supported. God’s rules are the manufacturer’s guide as to what our brains can and can’t do. Wishfull thinking that we can ignore the rules will simply not work.

When things happen in life-we are hardwired to overreact. We become too angry, too sad too anxious etc. we then put out serotonin in order to calm down, norepinephrine in order to ponder and plan, dopamine in order to be motivated to act and feel satisfaction when we have.

If you use up your calmdown, molecules, your think and do molecules too fast by not living in God’s grace and not speaking to your innerself according to his principles; you will have “dark thoughts, be exhausted, wonder what the point of life is.

There are three basic ways that we spend our molecules faster than they can be replaced.

  1. Sweating the big stuff, by circular thinking
  2. Sweating the small bystuff-making mountains out of molehills, by awfulizing.
  3. Stuffing stuff by suppressing issues that we should look at then do what we can and leave the rest to God.

DEALING WITH CIRCULAR THINKING: We dwell only in the just right now right here and being just ourselves. If you mull on the past and think “if only” or “why” or “can you believe they did this or I did that or didn’t do the following” “ oh the years the locusts have eaten they can never be regained.” YOU ARE TRYING TO BE GOD! He will never give you grace to steal his job. He likes it and you are not qualified. If you look at the future and think “what if this or that happens or doesn’t happen?” YOU ARE TRYING TO BE GOD! Take NO, YES NO, ABSOLUTELY NO anxious thought for tomorrow not even for food and clothing. He knows you need these and if he chooses to let you hide naked in caves or starve to death, you wouldn’t be the first of his children to go through that. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven. If you mull on what is happening elsewhere, YOU ARE TRYING TO BE GOD! He dwells in eternity he is omnipresent. All graceless mulling will burn you out, each time your heart circles it will squander serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine faster than you can replace it.

Your task is to:

  1. Become aware of your inner mulling and take every thought into captivity
  2. Ask that MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL questions, “is it my job, right now, to do something about my concern?”, and when the answer is NO:
  3. Give yourself permission to refocus on what you can do and what there is to seize hold of and enjoy.

Even if every living thing on earth is about to be destroyed, you are not a bad person, when you can do nothing about it, if you quit thinking about that and focus on what God wants you to do in the meanwhile.

SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF: Remember that it is all small stuff to God. Is anything impossible with him and you can do all things through him, he will never test you beyond his capacity to uphold you but will with the test give you the words and strength to not fall into sin.

There are three ways we make a problem hit us harder than it should, thus squandering our serotonin responding to the “extra” problem.

  1. Forget all the things God has already done in our life.
  2. Forget all the people and tools he has placed in our life to help us.
  3. Forget all the beauty and good that will be there no matter how the current concern turns out.

Your task is to, at lunch dinner and bedtime:

  1. Find one positive thing that God has helped you do.
  2. Find one positive thing that god has done for you through others, and tell them so.
  3. Find one thing that is honest, true, just, pure, of good reputation, beneficial and just plain cool.

That’s enough for now, I’ll cover the suppression issue later and amplify on the above tools, but for now constantly ask the question what am I supposed to do and practice the God Watch of pickypositive.

Your servant and fellow struggler. Verle







  1. Dr. Bell:

    I am thankful that you encourage us to examine our hearts and help us respond to life’s challenges in a biblical way without “beating us up with the Bible” and that you point us to physical causes that may contribute to our feeling unwell in body or spirit. It has also encouraged me to study the people in the Bible who experienced burn out or depression after accomplishing great things for the Lord. These examples help me to fight the enemy when he attacks my value because I might feel depressed or burned out. They help me to remember that God loves me and is not done with me. They help me have hope. Thank you for being real.

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