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Burnout : Renewal in the Wilderness Paperback – 1998
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Both books deal with the issue of profound chronic fatigue and physical/mental/emotional/spiritual breakdown (so-called "burnout") that can afflict people in any walk of life, but particularly those in ministry. This is not a book for those who are simply encountering a short dry spell, or who momentarily lack the passion they once felt. It is a book for people who have so utterly exhausted themselves in the act of giving to others that they fear they have broken themselves irrepairably and are having difficulty functioning at even a basic level anymore. This is the category of "burnout" that Sandford addresses, based on his own experience traversing such a period in his life.
In "Warriors" Sandford candidly addressed the question "why did this (i.e. burnout) happen to me" by flatly stating "I don't know." He then went on to say he'd be quite happy if God never allowed it to happen to him again, and that he had been spiritually refined and changed as a result of his suffering so that the end result was that it had been a positive, not negative, experience.
In "Burnout" what we essentially have is a much more insightful and detailed answer to the question "why did this happen to me?" Sandford coins the phrase "redemptive suffering" to discuss the causes and effects of suffering in the life of the believer and shows how burnout is simply one form of redemptive suffering.
There is much to like in this book, and I consider it essential reading if you are either suffering from burnout or trying to minister to or care for someone with burnout. It is not a compilation of pious platitudes about how to gracefully embrace suffering. It is the real account of a real person who was honest with God...who was sometimes so frustrated and wounded that he swore at God...who was not instantly and miraculously healed but who slowly regained his health and was transformed spiritually in the process.
But I will warn you: it is not an easy book. It is not a "feel good" message, nor is it a message you are likely to find in very many places because it makes us squirm. I have read quite a bit on the existential topics of suffering and pain, but can honestly say I have never heard anyone frame it up so well, and offer such excellent insight as Sandford has done here. Sandford's writing and style has a very authentic quality to it. You understand that it is not some abstract concept for him - it is a life message - one that he has personally walked. He also provides ample scriptural foundation to take this out of the realm of simply one person's experience and put it squarely into the realm of biblical truth. In "Burnout" we get the best of both: insight that can only be borne of personal experience, and the scriptural foundation that lets us confidently put our weight on Sandford's words without fear of collapse under faulty theology.
The final chapter is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. It deals with the pressing, maddening questions raised by the book of Job head-on. Namely, why do christians suffer? Does God cause suffering or simply allow it? Is all suffering the result of a person's sin? Was Job wrong in blaming God for causing his suffering? What was wrong with the counsel offered by Job's friends and why were they rebuked so sternly by God? What about the "faith" movement that claims Job's suffering was the result of his own unbelief or a spirit of fear that he allowed to dominate him (i.e., "what I greatly feared has come upon me")?
While only 18 pages in length, this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. It will bring meaning and hope to anyone who has experienced great suffering.
I strongly recommend this book. It is not the type of book that will be meaningful to those for whom everything is going well. It is really intended to be read by those who are exeriencing great suffering or those who are ministering to such individuals.