November 8, 2019 • Life for Leaders
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
Psalm 18:28-29 (NIV)
We all face times in our lives, including our work lives, when we feel overwhelmed, when we’re struggling with burnout. The writer of Psalm 18, identified as David in the preface to the psalm, knew that experience all too well: “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me” (Psalm 18:4). So what did David do? “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help” (Psalm 18:6). And what did God do? God heard David’s cry (Psalm 18:6) and rescued him (Psalm 18:19).
You might not be facing literal death, but you surely know how it feels to be dragged down by discouragement or defeat. You know exhaustion and hopelessness. Perhaps you wonder if you’re getting burned out in your work. Maybe you’re feeling these things right now. Or maybe you have a colleague who is in the middle of a rough patch. The following prayer might express your own heart before God today, or may enable you to intercede for someone you care about. Either way, let this prayer based on Psalm 18 help you to pour out your heart to God.
O Lord, there are times when I feel burned out. I’ve used up all the oil in my lamp, so to speak. My energy wanes. My passion dissipates. I wonder if I can go on.
Lord, I know that sometimes my exhaustion is a reminder that I haven’t been resting. You created me with a need for regular Sabbath. Sometimes I forget this, or choose to ignore it. No wonder I get overly tired. Forgive me for failing to rest. Help me to make this a priority.
But there are times, Lord, when the demands of life are simply overwhelming. Work requires so much of me, and then my children are sick or my parents are ailing or the washing machine floods my house or . . . . You know the drill, Lord. And you know how so many times I have called out to you in desperation.
Today I want to acknowledge your grace to me. Lord, when I have nothing left, you keep my lamp burning. Your presence in my life turns my darkness into light. You give me the strength to do what seems almost impossible. I can attack my problems with confidence. It feels like I could walk right up a wall.
So, dear God, without denying the times of doubt and despair, I want to acknowledge all the ways you have met me—comforting me, strengthening me, reassuring me, protecting me, empowering me to do my work with vigor. Thank you, Lord. May it all be to your glory! Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day:
With God’s help, you can “scale the walls” set before you today.
For Further Reflection:
You may want to read Philippians 4:4-13 for a different perspective on how God helps us in difficult times.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
Do Your Work in a Worthy Manner (Philippians 1:27–2:11)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.