Do Not Become Weary
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
I’ve never liked this translation of Paul’s statement to the church in Galatia. I don’t like it because I’ve been weary before. Weary is more than tired, it’s a deep aching for rest – and it isn’t something that I’ve ever experienced much control over. Telling someone not to become weary is like telling someone not to become thirsty. Especially cruel would be to tell someone, “Don’t become hungry, because at the proper time you’ll get to eat – IF you don’t give up.” The proper time? If I become hungry isn’t that then the proper time?
But this isn’t exactly what Paul was saying. The word which the NIV translates “grow weary” can certainly mean that, but it also carries a connotation of “giving up” or “loosing heart.”
There is certainly a lot of good to be done. Matt Tapie recently wrote a post titled “I saw Lazarus in DC”. I agreed with the sentiment of his post, I examined myself in order to assess my own guilt and culpability…and what I felt was weary. Weary because Jesus was right, we will always have the poor among us. Weary because I live across a lake from a city torn apart by political corruption, systemic oppression and rampant crime – and so many people in this state seem to have accepted this as the way things are! In fact I’m often chastised as being “one of those Texans” who just don’t appreciate Louisiana (I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! Have you seen the movie Hot Fuzz? It’s a lot like that.)
Weary because of the individuals in our own congregation that have crippling financial, emotional, psychological and physical needs that never seem to improve. Weary because all the good we do so often seems to amount to nothing of substance. Weary because no matter how much time you spend investing in one group of people, the moment you turn your attention to someone else, the others begin falling apart.
Weary because instead of talking about these things, most “religious” conversations people want to have are more interested in baptism versus sinner’s prayer, immersion versus sprinkling, pastors versus elderships, blah versus freaking blah. Are you kidding me??!!
Weary because no matter how hard you try to serve God faithfully it seems there are still plenty of “good faithful Christians” chunking rocks at you. Weary because it seems that many Christians are ready to write you off as the enemy the moment they disagree with something you’ve said – whether they understood what you were saying or not.
Weary because I don’t feel up to the task that God has placed before me. Weary because there is still so much good that needs to be done. Weary because I’m tired.
It isn’t fair for Paul to tell me not to grow weary in doing good! Doing good is what’s making me weary! Knowing that there is a coming reward doesn’t do much to address my weariness.
And yet I do need (and I assume others do as well) for godly men and women to come alongside me and say “don’t lose heart, don’t give up.” Of course those words ring extremely hollow from people who do not show any interest in me personally – who won’t invest in me. Paul could say to the church “don’t give up” because Paul was tirelessly serving these congregations.
Matt has a great knack for reminding us of the things that we like to pretend aren’t happening (remember Darfur?) and that is one of the things about him that I greatly admire and appreciate. I may be weary, but I can’t lose heart…I can’t give up. I can’t because Matt’s right, there are still so many people who are longing to eat the scraps from tables to which I have access. I can’t give up because there are many who are wearier than I who have no voice with which to cry out. I can’t give up because the Lord has heard the cries of the weak and the Lord has called the faithful to respond even as he is responding.
I’m still weary. I’m still overwhelmed. I’m still in way over my head. I’m still being paid to do something that is so far beyond my abilities that I keep looking around wondering who would be crazy enough to hire me…
But I’m also still here. I’m still aware (somewhat) of the injustices taking place around me. I still remember the beautiful story of creation that taught me how our Lord created this universe and called it good – I should still care what happens.
Therefore, as I have opportunity, I will do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers. May God bless us as we seek to serve him faithfully.
Hasten, O God to save us: O Lord, come quickly to help us.