Are you tired?
I have said, on occasion, that I’m convinced we should arrive at the gates of heaven completely worn out. What I am getting at is that we labor in the kingdom and it is hard work – exhausting at times.
Though we tire, there is a good feeling to laboring in the kingdom of God, similar to the endorphin release we experience with rigorous exercise. The result is reduced stress, protection against anxiety and depression, bolstered self-esteem, and improved sleep cycles.
In all my years working in full-time ministry, I cannot recall a single instance wherein a believer came to me to discuss the extent of their physical fatigue. I did, however, have a number of conversations with men and women who were spiritually weary, and I have experienced such weariness myself.
The solutions prescribed for spiritual weariness are vast. Myriad proposals are offered up in sermons, devotionals, books, podcasts, and now, blog postings!
We are given prescriptions for scripture study. “If you just spend more time in the Word – memorize more scripture, that will sustain you.” We are often exhorted to a deeper prayer life (whatever that means). We are encouraged to spend more time in fellowship with like-minded believers so that we can be energized and encouraged through association. Music! “Listen to praise music and sing along with it.” In some circles, we may be told to, “Get into an accountability relationship with a mentor, a mature believer.”
None of these is a bad thing. Each is a positive, encouraging activity. I am certain each has spiritual benefits. But as a man of the Word, I need to see scriptural backing that tells me my spiritual fatigue will be remedied through the prescribed activities, and I cannot find that backing! This leads me to believe that, with the best of intentions, my friends have offered little more than wishful thinking.
I can try the solutions my well-meaning companions have suggested, and may even receive a temporary uplift from them, but in the end I will land right back where I started, and may even be a bit more depressed, because I feel as though I have failed yet again, and therefore must be spiritually inadequate. In such cases, I believe my weariness is the result of trying to sustain myself through my own efforts.
Is there a scriptural prescription for spiritual weariness? Yes, I believe there is, and I am thankful to Dr. John D. Morris at the Institute for Creation Research for bringing it to my attention.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:3, HCSB
A more literal reading of the Greek text says, “…that you wax not weary, fainting in your souls.” Does that capture it for you the way it does for me? Do we feel as though we are “fainting in our souls?”
The source of this weariness is less interesting to me than is the solution to it. “Consider him!” Focus on him – on Jesus – so that we do not grow weary and lose heart.
The call to look to Jesus, so that we do not faint in our souls, comes immediately on the heels of the “great rollcall of faith” in Hebrews 11. There we read…
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. – Hebrews 11:37-38, NASB
I have not experienced any of that! As horrifying as all of that is, Jesus experienced even more. Look to him, so that you do not grow weary and faint in your soul. Considering the martyrs of Hebrews 11, and the sacrifice of Jesus, Hebrews 12, my own burden seems rather light.
Jesus promised rest, not for our bodies, but rather our souls.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30, NASB
Scripture, doctrine, piety, worship, prayer, praise – all of these are important, but in the end, it comes back to Jesus. Jesus is what is most important. All of the former practices find their meaning and summation in Jesus. Without him, all else is meaningless. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you do not grow weary and faint in your souls.