The clinical term is secondary traumatic stress syndrome. A more euphemistic term is compassion fatigue. What most of us call it is burnout.

It’s when you feel like you have no more empathy to give. It’s a feeling of helplessness in the face of helping others who are suffering in some way. It’s the loss of joy when giving help.

It’s normally associated with people who are in the care-giving business: first-responders, healthcare workers, therapists, military personnel, social workers, and ministers. Experts have noted, however, that more and more the general public is experiencing it because of constant bombardment with appeals for charity and the pervasiveness of crime. When you’re tired of doing good and skeptical that it even matters, you’re suffering from compassion fatigue.

I think the apostle Paul was familiar with the concept. Although I doubt that he looked at it in a clinical way, he understood the tendency to get tired of doing good for others. In the book of Galatians, he said, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6.9-10).

He was writing to the churches of Galatia who had been fighting among themselves about their salvation. Were people justified before God by faith in Christ or by the Law of Moses? Their disagreements led to strife and disagreement. They were tired of fighting and Paul offered them a better way. 

In chapter five, he told them to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Then in chapter six he follows this with practical exhortations about how to treat one another in Christ. It ends with the two verses we just read, where he told them to look for opportunities to do good. But he warns them that doing good can be a tiresome exercise, so he encourages them to not become weary in well doing, and not to lose heart about it. Negatively, don’t stop doing good. Positively, continue always in doing good.

By way of commentary, John Wesley (1703-1791) is credited with saying, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

For today and every day, do some good.