Feeling Weary?

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I am.

So much sadness. So much disease. And so much death. And therefore, so much heartache and so much grief. As a grieving mother wrote, “The pain is unbearable.” There is so much need. And we are called to bear these burdens.

For the past several weeks, both as a nation and, more particularly, as a local church, there has been so much bad news along with what seems to be so little good news. I confess that, lately, when I hear a notification on my phone, I’m a bit apprehensive to look. “What next?” I’m thinking.

In these heart-wrenchingly difficult days, we’d all like to have broad shoulders on which to carry the burdens of one another. This is both a biblical response and a blessing to those in need (Galatians 6:1–2; Romans 12:15). But, with the apostle Paul, we early reach the stage when we realise, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16). This rhetorical question calls forth the assumed answer: None of us is.

Someone once asked me how to lead a church through a crisis. I half-jokingly said, “Pretend that you know what you are doing.” That’s not a completely facetious statement. The truth is, when facing inexplicable evil and inexpressible grief, no one has all the answers. In times of incomprehensible sadness, we all learn quite quickly that the burdens outweigh our abilities. It has been said that, when you reach the end of your rope, you should “tie a knot and hang on.” However, there have been plenty of times when what I thought was a taut square knot turned out to be a deceptive slip knot. And this humpty dumpty has subsequently gone tumbling. In those times I have been reminded that, like Paul, “our sufficiency is of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:5). When I recognise and respond to this truth, well, unlike all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, I find that God is able to put me back together again. When I’m feeling the most weary, when I am feeling the most weak, I can actually feel the most strength. Paul taught this (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). So did Peter. He wrote, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Peter was writing to troubled Christians, many who were feeling weary in their trials. He recognised that, for many, being weary had led to worry. The word “anxieties” refers to what Jesus called “the cares of this world” (Mark 4:19)—that is, the weariness that arises from living in a broken because sinful world.

Rather than unfeelingly criticising his readers, Peter exhorts them to let the Lord carry their feelings of both weariness and worry. Perhaps Peter was remembering the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Sisters and brothers, it is not a sin to feel weary in this trying time of the pandemic. Being burdened and saddened, and feeling heavy, is no necessary indication that we are sub-Christian. Rather, at issue is, how will we respond?

Carrying burdens for the weary is a privilege for the Christian. And the more we carry them the more weary we will probably feel. In such times, remember the exhortation: “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). With such a promise, let us keep doing “good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

I feel like I’m rambling, but I hope this will be of some help.

Feeling both weary and blessed with you,

Doug