When Weariness is Sacred
I want to come right out and say something that typically I just hope for silently. This post isn’t about me looking for someone to pick me up. My desire to reveal personal struggles and frustrations comes in part from a desire to push myself to be open and vulnerable, but it is also in hopes that my struggles will connect with yours, the reader.
My real hope and intention is to highlight our common experience. I’m often weighed down with the (false) belief that I’m the only one dealing with something – my prayer is that through these confessions you will be freed from that same fear.
End of disclaimer…
In Galatians 6 the apostle Paul tells us to not grow weary (or lose heart, or give up) in doing good. But that is sometimes much easier said than done, isn’t it?
There are certainly times when doing good is energizing and there are plenty of times when doing good is exhausting and depressing. When everything you do seems to amount to nothing, its hard not to grow weary. When everything you TRY to do seems to fall apart it is hard not to give up.
I’m feeling that way a little today. Over the past couple weeks we’ve had several things planned that I was excited about participating in; things that were meant to be a benefit to others or to connect to community. First the Chick-Fil-A trip last week was postponed since they decided not to open until this week. Several people had taken off work in order to participate – which meant that not only was their plan to use a day off to serve others thwarted, it also meant they probably wouldn’t be able to turn around and get a day off again the next week.
Then our concert at Relay for Life was rained out. After a 4 hour practice session and high hopes for connecting with folks through this great event…nothing.
Then this week, as many of you know, 5 of us loaded up and left Burleson at 6:30 to drive down to the Austin area for the actual Chick-Fil-A event. We arrived at 9 am hoping to be one of the first 100 people in line and discovered that there were already 150 people in line. We cleared our schedules (which was not easy to do) and then drove to Austin so that we could donate half the tickets to Harvest House…only to turn around and drive home empty handed.
These are just the failed attempts to do good which are appropriate to share in public. Trying to do good is making me weary.
I was talking to a friend recently who is dealing with weariness and actually felt worse after reading the Galatians 6 passage.
The comment was made to the effect that perhaps the weariness felt was an indicator of guilt and God’s judgement; perhaps the inability to receive comfort from God means that God is angry or absent or something.
…we are directed to 2 Peter 1:3-4. ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness…’ And then to 2 Cor 9:8: God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” That’s supposed to make me feel better, too. But it doesn’t. What if God isn’t really in me? He is able to make grace abound…apparently he hasn’t done so in me. Because I’m tired. And I certainly don’t feel like I’ve abounded in every good work.
While reflecting on these comments it struck me – this weariness and these wounds are sacred. They are sacred and they are Holy because they have come as a result of seeking to live under the reign of God right under Caesar’s nose.
If you aren’t familiar with that reference, the phrase “Jesus is Lord” was a rebellious statement for Christians living under the Roman empire which had a well known and often used slogan of “Caesar is Lord.” So in effect the Christians were saying, “Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.” This was dangerous for them…and my point is that its dangerous for us too.
Its dangerous for us to reject the accepted cultures of entitlement. It is dangerous to live in the Way of Jesus who said it is better to lay down your life than to seek ways to keep the cycle of violence and retribution going. It is better to pour oneself out in order to serve the poor and oppressed than it is to pour oneself out to get ahead. It is better to turn the other cheek; to also give your shirt to the person stealing your coat; to love your enemies. It is better to consider others better than yourself. It is better to risk it all in order to do what you know God is calling you to do than to choose the safe path.
But so long as we live in a world that is still groaning in anticipation of God’s restoration and reconciliation; so long as Caesar is still able oppose the Lord; so long as God’s Kingdom is already here but not yet fully here then practicing life in the Kingdom will be risky and painful and exhausting. And the weariness we feel, the wounds we nurse, the scars we bear are holy and sacred because they share in the weariness, wounds and scars experienced by Jesus, God Incarnate.
That may not make bearing these burdens easier in the moment. But, when Jesus was praying in the garden on the night he was arrested it says “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:43-44). Even after the angel appeared to strengthen him Jesus was in anguish.
I realize that some will say, “our situation is not nearly as serious as that of Jesus.” Maybe, but our connection to the source of hope isn’t as clear as his was either. The process of restoring broken relationships is difficult. The cost is high.
So back to Paul’s words:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:9-10).
Not becoming weary here is not meant as an accusation against those who are tired – it is an encouragement not to give up, to hang in there, to resist the temptation to throw in the towel. It is hard, but what we say and do does matter…even if the results are not what we’d initially hoped.
Don’t give up on the call to be God’s people – that call is radical and risky and should never be sold out for something safe and watered down. And know that even if you return from Austin empty-handed that you have invested something in the new heavens and new earth. We are joining with God in reforming and reconciling his good creation.
So hang in there! Don’t give up!
Grace and Peace to you.