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Spiritual Warfare and Adrenal Exhaustion

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 

God made man with three interrelated and interdependent qualities.  These three qualities are physical, mental and spiritual.  In Deuteronomy 6:5, God said “Thou shalt love thy God with all thine heart, (mental), and all thy soul (spiritual), and with all thy might (physical).” Scriptures further support this fact when in Luke 2:40,52 it says of Jesus, “And the child grew (physical), and waxed strong in spirit (spiritual), filled with wisdom (mental); and the grace of God was upon Him.” Christ’s method of healing involves these three inseparable qualities of man as revealed in Matthew 9:1-7.  This method is outlined as follows: verse 2 – son be of good cheer (mental), thy sins be forgiven thee (spiritual), verse 6, take up thy bed and walk ( physical).  This involves the whole person in the healing process, “Wilt thou be made whole,” John 5:6.  

When we encounter extreme stress, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, our body comes to our rescue.  If the challenge goes into overdrive to meet our needs, the danger then changes from outside of us to within.

Recently I experienced firsthand the effects of running on spiritual adrenaline for the first time in my 36 years of laboring for souls as a gospel medical missionary.  I literally started to waste away physically; losing thirty plus pounds which I could not afford to lose in the first place. I experienced mental fatigue and exhaustion which had a direct impact on my spiritual life.  The battle to fight the good fight of faith became intense and overwhelming.  But by God’s grace and a resolve on my part and with what little physical and mental strength I had, I  held on to the strength that only God could supply, keeping me from being overcome by this condition that was brought on by adrenal exhaustion, a condition that can be caused by extreme stress, good or bad. As with every diseased condition, the Bible clearly states, that “The curse causeless shall not come…” Proverbs 26:2.

The cause I knew not, I searched it out” Job 29:16 .I discovered that my uninterrupted missionary activities with all the elements of good deeds and soul winning for 36 years had taken a toll on my physical and mental constitution.  My life of service for God was running on high gear, non-stop.  I was operating on reserve energy which was being exhausted.  This was the cause of my meltdown, adrenal exhaustion.

In the life and experience of Elijah, the mighty prophet of God, a type of God’s people living in the last days, we see the infinite power of God to deliver us from the caves of spiritual meltdown and exhaustion.  You see, there on Mount Carmel, there was a great display of the power of God wrought through His servant.  The priests of Baal were utterly defeated.  Elijah had toiled all day on Carmel’s high without food.  His courage was strong, despite the physical strain under which he had labored.  He had been exalted to Pisgah’s top. However, under threat of Jezebel he came from a spiritual high to the valley of spiritual exhaustion.  On Mount Carmel he had just had a high stress situation and his strength was taxed.  In spite of this he was still able to lead Ahab and his chariot by running before him in a rain storm to the gate of Jezreel.  Even though he had this exalted experience on Mount Carmel and safely led the wicked king to Jezreel, his body became vulnerable and weak and could not handle any more stress, so he fled from the threats of Jezebel, forgetting God.  But God did not forget him, for God took care of his servant by a brook where he fed him and gave him sleep,  which is so essential in the recovery from adrenal exhaustion: Rest and wholesome nourishment. You see, Elijah was undergoing temporary adrenal exhaustion in the midst of a spiritual warfare (See 1 Kings 18,19).

As a result of the experiences of Elijah, I learned that I needed rest from the constant traveling, conducting  meetings, counseling, trying to meet demands placed on me and trying to manage a ministry by God’s grace.  The words of God echoed strongly in my mind “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  1 Corinthians 9:25-27.

So, I submitted to God in this matter and began to follow a well-planned course of action which I have been preaching to others but I myself had not held to it totally.  I stopped seeking to respond to every request for meetings and traveling. I set boundaries. I came aside and rested, increased my physical exercise, boosted my internal system with nourishing foods designed to restore adrenal function and most importantly spent  more personal time in prayer, studying God’s word and reflecting on His goodness.  I took three months to recharge my spiritual, mental and physical constitution.  From this point on my life of service to my God and fellow man is strictly governed by the principles of health that are clearly stated in His word. The Great Physician by His tender mercies and loving kindness restored my health.

I write this so that my fellow committed missionaries may also learn from the life and experience of Elijah, the type of God’s last day servants, not to prematurely rob God of His glory that He wants to display in and through us and also rob Him of His service that He has called us into. While we spend and be willing to be spent for this is the Spirit of Christ, we are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves in the assignments and “so called assignments.”  God must be our “filter” for everyone and everything that calls for our attention. 

Brethren, shall we educate ourselves to depend upon men rather than to make God our trust and dependence in every emergency?... Whatever work is attempted with reference to the cause and work of God, we are under Christian obligations to God. Let him be consulted….  God will make known unto them his pleasure… 

The disciples of Jesus needed to be educated as to how they should labor, and how they should rest. Today there is need that God’s chosen workmen should listen to the command of Christ to go apart and rest awhile. Many valuable lives have been sacrificed, that need not have been, through ignorance of this command.... Though the harvest is great and the laborers are few, nothing is gained by sacrificing health and life.... There are many feeble, worn workmen who feel deeply distressed when they see how much there is to be done, and how little they can do. How they long for physical strength to accomplish more; but it is to this class that Jesus says, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.”—The Review and Herald, November 7, 1893  

The Christian life is not made up of unceasing activity, or of continual meditation. Christians must work earnestly for the salvation of the lost, and they must also take time for contemplation, for prayer, and the study of the Word of God. It will not do to be always under the strain of the work and excitement, for in this way personal piety is neglected, and the powers of mind and body are injured.—The Review and Herald, November 7, 1893

"Let your moderation be known unto all men.”

Written by: Dr. Thomas Jackson, Director

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