When You Can’t Take One More Day

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“I can’t take one more day of …”

Fill in the blank with anything you like:

  • your tedious job
  • your bursting-with-fires-to-put-out job
  • unemployment
  • parenting multiple toddlers
  • a struggling marriage
  • chronic pain, illness, or caregiving
  • dreary weather
  • etc.

Even jobs and roles we love can seem unbearable when they take an overload of responsibility and time. Usually, we go ahead and endure one more day for lack of alternatives. Far too many people, though, go to extremes to find an exit: abandoning their families; “drowning it” in drug addiction; even committing suicide.

When we honestly are sick of the lives we’re living, what can we do besides (1) suffer in silence; (2) suffer with constant complaining; or (3) run away by the nearest means available?

We can start by answering three questions:

Is It the Situation, or Is It Me?

Often we’re just where we’re meant to be to fulfill ourselves and our God-given purpose, but we’re managing things all wrong:

  • We give all our time to the job/relationship/responsibility, and leave ourselves no time for rest or personal leisure–or worship and prayer. Without self-care and with our connection to God weakened, we burn out.
  • We feel personally responsible for making sure everything gets done perfectly and ASAP. We neglect to delegate responsibilities to those who could do them better, and we “play God” by trying to plan everything ourselves.
  • We don’t listen to God or other people telling us we’re doing too much, or that we’re also needed elsewhere. We either ignore them completely, or react with anger because they “just don’t understand” the situation.
  • We think we know what results to expect when, and when it doesn’t happen on our schedule, we get mad at God for not “delivering” what He never promised.

If you’re floundering in an undertaking you were certain was God’s will, take some time off–preferably with the help of a discerning prayer partner–to seek His guidance on where you really should be focused right now.

Is There an Appropriate Means of Exit?

Many people who complain they “can’t take anymore” have better opportunities practically pounding on their doors, but won’t open up because they’re “too busy” to hear. Or because they’re afraid of change and new responsibilities: better the devil they know than the blessing that’s a stranger to them.

Before God decides to transfer that opportunity to someone willing to use it, schedule a few days to slow down and take stock:

  • Is there a job opening someone’s hinted you’d be perfect for, or that fits your deepest passions?
  • Could you schedule a couple’s retreat (or a series of “like in the old days” dates) with the spouse you’re feeling distant from?
  • Is there a coaching service/app/medical treatment that might help you find a way off your current treadmill?

Don’t complain “God’s not doing anything to help” until you’ve actually looked at what’s within your grasp.

Am I Relying on God’s Strength or My Own?

That question is vital whatever your answers to the other two; but this section is especially for those who have concluded it’s God’s will they stick things out:

  • Those struggling with a household member’s rebellious attitude or unwillingness to communicate
  • Those in a job or ministry that seems to be going nowhere, who nonetheless can’t ignore the inner voice that tells them this is where they’re needed
  • Those caring for a terminally ill parent or special-needs child

Strangely, the greater our need to rely on the God Who can do the humanly impossible, the more inclined we often are to focus on our own inadequacy or how we “should be” doing better. Relying on God in an emergency is one thing: relying on Him in a day-by-day situation is less natural, as our impatience for quick relief easily turns into a focus on “I just need to get through this day; I couldn’t bear to look further ahead” where all we can see is an endless more-of-the-same.

Now, we do need to live one day at a time and rely on God’s strength one day at a time. But we also need to remember He has promised us a better world to come, a world free of discouragement. Relief from stressful situations doesn’t come simply from a good night’s sleep or even a major life change. It comes from hoping in our Lord.

Rather than wondering if we can “take one more day,” let’s concentrate on living each day in Him and for Him.

Can’t You See I’m TRYING?!!?

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Many people could look at Martha, complaining, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?”–and mutter, “All that fuss over one tough day; she didn’t know how easy she had it.” What do you do when you’ve tried your best until you’re on the edge of burnout, and then instead of help or encouragement, you get blame for not doing even more? Consider:

  • The low-income mother who’s working sixty hours a week to keep her children housed and fed, has tried in vain for months to find an affordable daycare arrangement with space available–and then hears from a neighbor threatening to “report you to Child Protective Services if you keep leaving those poor kids alone all day.”
  • The college graduate battling severe autism, who’s been turned down for one job after another because everything in his natural instincts fights his best efforts to develop “soft skills“–and is withdrawing even further because he knows he’ll have a public meltdown if one more person asks, “Why don’t you quit living off your family and get a job?”
  • The teenage introvert in a family of extroverts, who is the primary loser in an ongoing war between her natural passions and the “Why don’t you get out and socialize?” pressure from well-meaning but less-than-empathetic parents. Or the extrovert in a family of introverts, the artist in a family of athletes, the sportsman in a family of scholars–anyone who is made to feel something is wrong with him because he just can’t enjoy what “everyone else” loves.

The quintessential example is Job, who did more things right than any of his peers, yet in his hardest hour could find no sympathy, just “Why didn’t/don’t you do more?” criticism. Like Martha centuries later, he felt that even God was dismissing his struggles as unimportant.

Where Does My Help Come From?

Charles A. Tindley might have been familiar with similar situations a century ago, when he wrote in a hymn-prayer:

When I do the best I can,
And my friends misunderstand,
Thou who knowest all about me,
Stand by me.

(“Stand By Me,” 1905)

God is standing by us in our struggles, even if He has done little about them from our point of view. Sometimes He holds off the help we want so we can develop the strength we need. Often, though, we get so busy trying to solve things ourselves–or trying just to keep up with immediate demands so things won’t get worse–that we don’t leave time or energy to even ask for His help. Would you park outside a coffee shop, sit there in the car because you were “too exhausted” to walk in and place an order–and then get mad at the staff for “not wanting your business” because they haven’t brought you anything?

You may say, “Well, a barista doesn’t know what I need before I ask. God does.” Which is true, but not an excuse. God wants to be your Friend and Mentor, not just your Provider. He doesn’t appreciate being treated as Someone Who should “stand by” and deliver as needed without your even looking at Him; He wants to stand by you and have you aware of His presence. If you look to Him regularly, it matters less whether your situation improves quickly than that you feel His ongoing comfort and guidance. Since He has full knowledge of you and all your struggles, He’s your best source of empathy and help.

Slow Down and Pray: You’ll Make Faster Progress

It may seem as though your world will implode if you interrupt your work to talk to God for ten minutes. But those who actually try it on a daily basis agree it’s the best investment you could make. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29, NLT). Notice He didn’t say, “First find the right place to unload your heavy burden, then come to me.” We’re to come as we are, and let Him do the unloading for us.

It’s amazing how much less burdensome life becomes when we stop “trying so hard” and start doing things in the right order.


  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at www.PositiveContentFactory.com.

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    Bible quotes used in this blog are from the New Living Translation or the New International Version (1984). See http://www.biblegateway.com/ for copyright details.
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