Coping with compassion fatigue

As a board member of The Sierra Schools Foundation, I recently helped coordinate efforts to bring social-emotional training to our small school district’s teachers.

One term struck me: compassion fatigue.

As teachers have doubled up duties to teach both in an in-person setting and in a distance learning model, they have also encountered countless cases of students and parents and peers who are in emotional distress, while these same teachers also try to manage their own families’ needs as well as their own.

Compassion fatigue is real. You give and give and give to the hurting and needy until you find yourself exhausted and depleted.

I have experienced this over the last 22 years as I’ve prayerwalked the streets of my community and been a pivot point for various prayer groups.

When tremendous needs from many I love came from several directions during one season, I found myself literally on the couch, exhausted one day. “What’s wrong with me?” I remembering saying to my husband.

“You’re taking on too much,” he quickly answered. And my husband is almost NEVER quick to answer. Yes, the prayer needs had wiped me out physically.

I’ve experienced this lately again.

I imagine the prophets felt this compassion fatigue. God called them to speak his words to the people, who had strayed from following the Lord and who would not listen to the warnings God spoke through the prophets.

I’ve so far in the last month or so read through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, and Amos. Frankly, I don’t know how they held up. Just reading the Word right now is exhausting. I hunt for some hope, some promise, some good word to get ME through my day . . . something I hope I can share with others to help THEM get through theirs.

Those hopeful words are few and far between. The warnings are strong and hard . . . even harsh. And I can clearly see how disobedience and rebellion and disinterest hurts God greatly.

And yet . . . I always notice that punishment is lifted when the people run back to the Lord God. So that knowledge alone gives me that string of hope as I pray for many right now suffering from loss of loved ones, fires, illness, straying children, unemployment, and depression.

So I run daily to the place where my compassion fatigue is always lifted: God’s Word. And I pray you do as well.

Keep #LookingUp!

Janet McHenry is a speaker and the author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She would love connecting with you: https://www.janetmchenry.com.

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