Our pastor is working with a group of caregivers, to help us recognize caregiver fatigue and how to cope with it in our work. All caregivers, Christian or not, often experience pressures in their work that exceed their own physical and emotional resources. To continue working under those pressures with no understanding of what you are experiencing and no coping skills to deal with it can lead to caregiver fatigue.
I have experienced caregiver fatigue, and it led to physical and emotional exhaustion. I had feelings of guilt and inadequacy. It was a feeling that everyone was taking a piece out of me until I had nothing left. It was difficult to make the decisions that my work required me to make. I had feelings of isolation, both from my inner self and from those I needed to care for. Fortunately, I had a counselor friend who helped me recognize what caregiver fatigue is and know how to cope with it.
The Bible tells us Jesus rested from his work and he invites us to come to him for rest. So, our pastor has asked us to develop a theology of rest, and gave us two biblical passages to study and pray over. Then, to develop a theology of rest based upon those two passages.
The first passage is Matthew 11:28-30 (Contemporary English Version):
If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.
The second passage is 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (Contemporary English Version):
Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives. We suffer in the hope that you will be comforted and saved. And because we are comforted, you will also be comforted, as you patiently endure suffering like ours. You never disappoint us. You suffered as much as we did, and we know that you will be comforted as we were.
My first problem is to determine what Jesus meant about the rest he invites is to, and second, how his words relate to the words of the apostle Paul. I have an idea, but that will be my next blog: a theology of rest.