How To Overcome The Chronic Fatigue It Causes
“As it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day.” Romans 11:8
The fatigue came on slowly at first. I didn’t really stop long enough to see what was happening. It was so mild that it didn’t really catch my attention. Like a foggy mist, it had silently crept in. As the fatigue grew stronger, I just dug down deeper into my own determination to keep going. One day I remember feeling exhausted as I came in from gardening. I remember in that moment stopping and asking myself why I did it. Why work so hard? Surely the weariness would let up if I would just slow down. So I did. But when I yielded to the weariness it only grew stronger.
Then “it” happened. The best way I can describe what happened that night is to call it a crisis of trust. Trust in God. Trust in myself. Trust in others. It was like a perfect storm. A stress storm. I remember trying to act as if I was ok that night, but I wasn’t. It was all I could do to hold it together until we got home.
That night I laid in bed in the fetal position. It was like some protective barrier had broken inside of me. Whatever this internal breach was, I knew it was serious. It felt like something destructive now had access to places that had never been exposed before. All I could do was lay there and quote scriptures. “God is my refuge and strength.” “He will never leave me or forsake me.” Over and over I quoted every scripture I could think of. Little did I know that night how much my life had just changed. About 5 days later the fatigue hit me in a life altering way. Then came the lymph node pain and sore throats. It was all I could do just to make a meal. Any plans that were not absolutely necessary were cancelled. I would go to work for one day and take two days to recover. I would just stare into space at the end of the day, wondering when the pain would let up. Two months later I gave my notice at work. I wondered why I was even alive if all I could do was lay around. Wave after wave of fatigue hit me. It was a relentless cycle of getting my hopes up on good days only to be disappointed when it returned. It felt like a cruel roller coaster ride that I couldn’t get off of. It began to feel safer to just stop hoping.
I began going from Doctor to Doctor trying to get a diagnosis. I suspected it was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. But the doctors were saying no at first. We spent thousands of dollars on traditional and alternative medicine. I tried special diets. Juice fasts. IV therapy. Supplements. Rest. More rest. Nothing seemed to give any lasting relief. I felt like I was in no-man’s land. Not sick enough to be confined to bed. Too sick to live a normal life. It felt like I was always letting people down. Cancelling on them. Unable to engage in conversations with any amount of energy. There were times that I wanted to die. My husband was one of my biggest encouragers. He knew that today might feel overwhelming but tomorrow could be totally different. “There’s always hope,” was his favorite saying.
I just wanted my life back. On the days when I didn’t feel the fatigue, I would dive into doing all the things that I’d wanted to accomplish but hadn’t had the energy to do. Then, WHAM! The fatigue would return with a vengeance. I felt like a dog on a leash. Forgetting about the restraint upon my neck, I’d repeatedly take off running, only to be slammed backwards by the choking restraint of fatigue.
Fear of the fatigue itself set in. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of pain. Questions of “WHY?!?!” When all I wanted to do was run for God, why would He allow this???? I begged God not to forget me here in this isolated place.
Then I noticed something. Something I didn’t understand. Why did it seem like the closer I walked with God, the less fatigue I felt? It seemed like any time my “flesh” (sin nature) was given a say in things, the fatigue grew worse. I began to wonder…could there be a spiritual root to this fatigue? Why did the fatigue seem to “lift” when I’d spent time in worship? It didn’t make sense. I’d turn on worship music at home. I’d worship God as I sang along to the words. I praised God for Who He is: “My Strength. Holy. Good. My Prince of peace. Faithful.” I’d pace back and forth in my prayer room, even exerting much energy. As I did, the fatigue would leave me. Sometimes quickly. Other times it took longer. But it would leave me. It didn’t make sense to me. Sometimes the fatigue would stay away for an hour before returning. Sometimes a day. Or a week.
One day, I talked to a friend about that fateful night when “it” all began. This friend is very gifted prophetically. The Lord gave her a word of knowledge. The fatigue was being caused by the spirit of slumber. (also called a spirit of stupor) I didn’t really understand what that meant. So I began to dig into the word to see what it had to say about it. The main passage that talks about this spirit is found in Romans 11:7-8:
“What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.”
I came to understand that the spirit of slumber is an evil spirit. This is not an evil spirit that influences just one individual, but one that influences groups of people. It falls among the category of the more influential evil spirits listed in Ephesians 6:12 when it says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” This evil spirit has a higher rank in Satan’s kingdom than others. An earthly analogy would be a governor over a state having more influence and power than an individual citizen. If a person having the gift of the discerning of spirits were to travel into an area where this spirit is in operation, they would suddenly feel the effects of this spirit. So what are those effects, or markers of this spirit?
- Passivity. The Greek word for slumber is “katányksis.” It means to be stupefied, as if stunned after a violent strike. Another word for slumber is stupor. This spirit has the potential to cause the believer’s ability to respond to be impaired. Where we would normally respond to a threat, slumber makes us lethargic; immobilized because our perception has been shut down. It’s common to feel a mental fog when this spirit is operating. Where our hearts were once stirred when we read the word or listened to a sermon, now we feel insensitive. It’s as if we’ve become drunk, but not with wine; we become negligent, unenthusiastic and slothful. Slumber shuts down our ability to understand spiritual truth and gives us dull hearts.
- Chronic fatigue is another marker of this spirit. Whether a person has yielded to this spirit or is simply discerning its’ presence, fatigue is one of the primary ways this spirit is discerned. In order to recognize its’ presence, one needs to learn to discern between normal physical tiredness and the fatigue caused by this spirit. Normal physical tiredness is “fixed” when we get physical rest. The weariness caused by this spirit may temporarily appear to be “fixed” when we isolate and rest our physical bodies, but in the big picture, the weariness remains an on-going problem.
- For those who have yielded to this spirit, their ability to “see” is impaired. In other words, the ability to perceive (discern) spiritual truth is diminished. The person who is yielding to this spirit finds it difficult to discern good from evil, right from wrong, true prophecy from false, etc. Our spiritual sensitivities have been stunned, leaving us in a spiritual stupor. The more we yield to this spirit, the less spiritually conscious we become.
- Another marker of this spirit is feeling overwhelmed. The individual may face the temptation to “crawl in a hole” and go to sleep when needed action looks too hard or too scary.” Those who are feeling the effects of this spirit may face strong temptation to quit pressing forward in their calling. One of the goals of this spirit is to shut us up and shut us down.
- Another indication that we may be feeling the effects of the spirit of slumber is the temptation to flee. It’s all too easy to believe the lie that says that retreating will protect ourselves and those we love when encountering slumber. Retreating can look like physically removing ourselves from a situation, literal sleep, passivity, isolating, mentally allowing threats to be blocked from our mind, or numbing ourselves on screens to name just a few.
- Another way to recognize that we are feeling the effects of the presence of slumber is when we have an inability to feel emotion when an emotional response would be healthy. Matthew 13:15 says, “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’” A hardened, calloused heart loses its’ ability to feel. It’s a dangerous thing to allow our feelings to go into lockdown. It may block out painful emotions like fear, but it also blocks out love, joy, and the ability to feel God’s presence.
What’s the big deal? Why should we be concerned about yielding to slumber?
- Slumber needs a point of access in order to be allowed to operate. Some ways that we give the spirit of slumber a foothold in our lives is through unbelief (Romans 11:7-23), rebellion (Jer. 5:21-23), Ezek. 12:1-2), and hardness of heart. (Matt. 13:13-15, Mark 8:17-18) If we as a church are to be freed from the spirit of slumber, repentance is called for. We need His grace and mercy poured out upon us. Even Jesus’ disciples who walked with Him everyday struggled at times with these things. The important thing is to not get stuck here, even if we have struggled with one of these sins. There is grace for the journey!
- Another reason we should be concerned about yielding to the spirit of slumber is because it leads to a pattern of retreating from conflict, which can lock the individual into a lifestyle of passivity and defeat.
- Another reason we should be concerned about yielding to the spirit of slumber is because it acts as a smokescreen for the enemy to do his dirty work, unhindered by a sleeping church. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” His agenda is to steal everything that is precious to us, including the harvest that we have labored for years to yield. If we as a church are finding comfort in sleeping while he ravages our treasure houses, he will gladly steal us blind. He would love nothing better than to steal the hearts of our children, destroy our reputation, and lie to us so that we do not walk in our true identities and destinies. If we will have the courage to wake up, we will be alarmed enough to act when we see him rummaging around in our treasures. We will stand up and fight only if we are awake!
Practical steps to overcome the spirit of slumber:
1. Follow Jesus’ example…use your sword! When Jesus engaged in battle against Satan at the end of His fast in the desert, He used the word, not human reasoning to defeat him. If ever there was a time when the atomic bomb of spiritual warfare was needed, this was it! Jesus was physically weak from a 40 day fast. He was hot, tired, thirsty and hungry. Lucifer handled this assignment himself. Most of us have never had to directly engage Lucifer in battle, but we would be wise to use the same weapons as Jesus when seeking to overcome the spirit of slumber. The word of God is a powerful weapon we can use against principalities, powers and rulers. When this spirit tries to convince us that what God is calling us to do is just too hard or too intimidating, some powerful scriptures include:
- “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29
- I can all things through him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13
- “…those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
2. Another practical step in overcoming the spirit of slumber is to worship. Turn your eyes toward Jesus. Focus on His attributes. Satan flees when we worship. It can be helpful to have a playlist of worship songs that specifically call upon the church to wake up from our slumber, such as:
- Wake up by All Sons and Daughters
- Fall Afresh by Bethel Music and Jeremy Riddle
- Do it again by Elevation
3. Identifying numbing behaviors that you may be using to escape the fatigue is another effective way to resist the spirit of slumber. If you have given in to yielding to this spirit through escapism, stop long enough to identify what those false refuges are; things like television watching, various other screens, isolating, etc. Exchange these numbing behaviors for more helpful responses. Enjoying some screen time can sometimes be a good thing, but if we are using screens as an escape from the fatigue of this spirit, it’s time to examine our motives.
4. Another practical step in overcoming the spirit of slumber is to get the right kind of rest. Not all rest is restorative. Some of examples of restorative rest would be:
- Listening to worship music.
- Soak in the word of God
- Take time to enjoy a Sabbath rest
Ask God for discernment so that you will be able to discern between normal physical tiredness and fatigue. We can be more tempted to yield to fatigue when we are physically tired, so we may at times find ourselves dealing with both at the same time. When this happens, invite God into your rest, and just soak in His presence. We are not limited to our own strength or resources. God teaches us to depend upon His strength when we find ourselves running out of our own before the victory is won.
5. Asking God for strength is another effective way to resist the spirit of slumber. While this one might seem obvious, it’s all too easy to overlook it. We do not overcome this spirit by floating along with the status quo. It takes intentionally resisting this spirit in order to overcome it. Sometimes God asks us to use all of our own strength to resist it, and then to tap into His once ours is gone. God is asking His church to overcome, and this will mean staying in the battle when we feel that we have used our last ounce of strength. We cannot overcome without tapping into God’s strength as well; and He is glad to give it. Psalm 89:17 says, “It pleases you to make us strong.” Sometimes we simply don’t tap into God’s strength because we don’t ask for it.
6. Another practical step in overcoming the spirit of slumber is to assume the right posture in prayer. If we think we’re going to overcome this one on our knees with our eyes closed, we may find ourselves succumbing to sleep in the same way that the disciples did in the Garden of Gethsemane. Good intentions. Bad warfare strategy. This battle is won our feet. Find a prayer closet where you can pace if you need to and pray out loud. Don’t give your flesh any wiggle room on this one. When we forcefully resist this spirit through worship and prayer, pressing through the fatigue we will feel it lift; our energy will be restored even when we exert much energy. This is what distinguishes it from normal physical tiredness. If it doesn’t lift right away, persist. You have absolutely been given authority over All the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19) This includes principalities, powers and rulers. Prayer, worship, submitting to God…we will prevail IF we do not yield.
Resist the temptation to wait until the weariness passes before engaging in worship. If we’re discerning the spirit of slumber through fatigue, look at that fatigue as a word of knowledge. The Lord is telling us through that fatigue that NOW is the strategic time to engage in warfare against this spirit. Timing in spiritual warfare is critical if we are to defeat the enemy. In this sense, the spiritual gift of the discerning of spirits is God’s way of giving His church eyes to see what the enemy is up to.
7. Repenting for yielding to this spirit is another effective way to resist the spirit of slumber. This one probably should be point #1. If we have yielded to this spirit for even a moment, repentance is called for. If we have found it difficult to trust God (unbelief) in this season, we repent. If we have found ourselves rebelling, we repent. We may even choose to repent on behalf of our people for any agreement with the spirit of slumber.
8. Another practical step in overcoming the spirit of slumber is to declare and prophecy. Make declarations over yourself and your people; declarations such as:
- “I am strong.” (Joel 3:10)
- “Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9)
- “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14b)
When we feel fatigued or overwhelmed, let’s push back! Resist fatigue (and fear of fatigue) by delclaring the promises of God to be our strength. We are commanded to be strong, (Deut. 31:6, Psalm 29:11) and we have been given everything we need to obey. (2 Peter 1:3)
9. Keeping our armor is absolutely necessary if we want to resist the spirit of slumber. Scripture calls Satan a roaring lion, and we need every piece of our armor. (Ephesians 6:10-18) For more on this topic, check out my blog posts entitled, “The Armor of God Part 1.”
10. Another practical step in overcoming the spirit of slumber is to join with other believers who are also discerning the presence of this spirit and pray together. The presence of this spirit came about as a result of corporate agreements, and it will be overcome on a corporate level as well. There is incredible power in agreement. Ask God to soften hearts and to help us as a people to turn away from unbelief, idolatry and rebellion.
Beloved, it is the last hour. 1 Thess. 5:6 says, “…let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” The rapture of the church is imminent. Mark 13:35-36 says, “Therefore stay awake – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.” Let’s work while it is daylight.
If you think that you have yielded to the spirit of slumber in any way, I want to invite you to take a moment and pray a prayer of repentance with me:
“Dear Lord Jesus,
I now recognize that I have yielded to the spirit of slumber. I don’t want to do this any longer. I ask you to give me strength. I also ask that you would give me the courage to do whatever you ask me to do. Thank you that you give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak. Thank you that I can do all things through you because you give me strength when my own runs out. Please help me to resist this evil spirit of slumber and also help me to submit to you. When I am tempted to flee, quit, or shut down, I ask that you would help me to stand firm. If I have sinned against you in any way that opened a door for this evil spirit to have influence in my life, I ask that you would forgive me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”