What Is The Martha Syndrome?

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:40–42

Our super–charged culture tells us to do, do, do—work hard, make a lot of money, do everything we can for our kids, and take time to play. Peak performance equals approval, we’re told, so we work harder. We’re constantly busy, “worried and bothered about so many things,” striving, driving and writhing.

Then there are the messages from the church: evangelize the lost, give to the poor, be good, do good, take care of your families. There’s nothing wrong with these things but, something’s missing.

Consider the following:

  • Noah was approximately 500 years old before God told him to build the ark.
  • Joseph spent two years in prison before he was promoted to second in command.
  • Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God told him to go back to Egypt.
  • David ran from Saul in the wilderness for years before being promoted to king.
  • Jesus spent 40 days, alone, in the desert, before embarking on His ministry.

In the wilderness, prison, or the desert, there are few distractions from God. No cell phones, schedules, planes to catch, or kids to pick up from school; just a man and his Creator.

From the world’s—and possibly the church’s—standards, all this downtime would be considered a waste, but not in God’s economy. Extended time alone with the Lord is a constant theme in Scripture—especially before a ministry assignment is given.

I can attest that solitary God–time is the most refreshing, life–giving experience on earth. When I have intentionally got away from everything for the sole purpose of seeking God, He’s showed up and blessed me marvelously. One of the most life changing moments in my life came from a time I went to the desert alone, just to seek Him.

When challenged to get away to do nothing more than be with God, the Martha Syndrome hits: “But what about… I won’t have anything to do there… wouldn’t that be too selfish of me… I have too much to do… what’s the point?”

Perhaps the problem is we don’t know how to slow down, or maybe, we’re afraid of being alone with our emotions. Silence intimidates us.

Ahh, but God’s quiet voice is best heard in solitude. Once all the noise of our mind settles down and we start focusing on Him, good things happen. The effects of months and years of soul–churning starts to wear off, and peace arrives. As our focus changes from the temporary to the eternal, our priorities are realigned. But these are only minor benefits compared to the priceless blessing of encountering the Lord.

I encourage you to schedule a time when you will get away for at least one night to do nothing more than be alone with God. Doing so could change your life.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation,my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Psalms 62:1-2