Ever since I entered university, I’ve noticed that burnout has become a sort of statement. Sleepless nights prove that we are hard workers. Investing in full-time education, part-time work, volunteering, internships, and clubs all in one semester show that we are committed. When people do allow themselves the luxury of having fun, they become so drunk in trying to forget their stresses that ‘fun’ is hardly the right word for it. People are suffering. Mental illness has become so rampant that nearly everyone I know is on drugs for anxiety, depression, or attention issues. And it’s not just students who are overworked. I know adults who are working between 75 and 95 hours per week, then coming home to walk the dogs and do the dishes. What is going on? Why do people refuse to take care of themselves? What is the point of working to achieve our goals in life if we are too busy and miserable to enjoy the fruits of our labor?
This is not how God intends for us to live. Even the Creator of the universe rests when needed, as said in Genesis 2:2: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”
So if God Himself takes time to relax, then why do we mere mortals expect ourselves to keep going? Making a living is necessary and meaningful. However, that does not mean we should disregard our physical and mental health in doing so. The bible warns against pushing yourself too hard:
“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.”- Proverbs 23:4
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.”- Luke 21:34
We live in a culture that invented caffeine pills. Where the average adult gets five hours of sleep per night. Where half of us will develop an anxiety disorder at some point in our lifetime. And our Creator did not design us to keep going at this pace.
The work we do should glorify God, not bring us to early graves. When we feel tired at the end of a long day of work, we should be able to sleep soundly with a sense of accomplishment. Instead, we force ourselves to stay up and work even more, feeling nothing but weariness. Our bodies our temples to God, we should honor and respect them. We should let ourselves sleep in. We should cook and eat healthy meals. We should exercise. Pray. Spend time with friends and family. Daydream. Read for pleasure. Make plans. Make mistakes. We should respect the person who can achieve a healthy work-life balance, not chastise them for being ‘lazy’ while we suffer behind our success. Hard work is worth it but only up to a point. We should remind ourselves to work so that it enhances our lives rather than destroying them. After all, God intended for Christians to be the light of the world. Let us not burn ourselves out when we could be shining so brightly.
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