Compassion Fatigue By Janet Holm McHenry

compassion fatigue is real

Compassion fatigue is real.

The Lord is a refuge to his people. –Joel 3:16 (ESV)

From a recent training for local teachers on social-emotional learning I learned a new term: 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 in emotional distress, while also trying to manage their own families’ needs and their own.

Compassion fatigue is real. I have experienced this often over the last 22 years as I’ve prayer-walked the streets of my community and been a pivot point for various prayer groups. Their burdens become mine—and sometimes I simply feel overwhelmed.

When tremendous needs from many I love recently came from several directions, I found myself on the couch, exhausted one day. “What’s wrong with me?” I asked my husband.

“You’re taking on too much,” he quickly answered. And my husband is almost never quick to answer.

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.
What must have kept them going was God’s call on their lives, as well as his words to them.

Reading the Bible daily is also what keeps me going during this challenging season. It also keeps me praying for many right now suffering from loss of loved ones, fires, floods, illness, straying children, unemployment, and depression.
Daily I run to the place where my compassion fatigue is always lifted: God’s Word. He never disappoints.

About the author: Janet McHenry is a speaker and author of 24 books—six of those on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She would love to connect with you:

2 thoughts on “Compassion Fatigue

Kathy Collard Miller

October 5, 2020 - 10 : 39 : 28

I think because of the blaming and accusing themes currently in our culture and trying to keep a pure heart (at least … trying) takes extra emotional energy. Plus, there’s so much more to learn. It feels overwhelming and includes wanting to be “compassionate” toward those who might not agree exactly the way I do. So thanks for sharing, Janet. It’s always been a challenge but seems even more so now.


Erika Rizkallah

October 11, 2020 - 05 : 51 : 05

You can’t even begin to know how much I needed to hear the words “compassion fatigue is real.” I’ve been ministering to various people with mental health challenges for over 20 years and the pandemic has intensified EVERYTHING. I find myself saying (only to myself), “I don’t care anymore” but it’s not true. I do but I’m so tired I couldn’t think to put a name to it. So thank you for sharing this post!


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