I Can’t Take This Another Day!

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV 1984).

Like e-mail and the Internet, fatigue and discouragement tend to be found in close proximity. And they seem just as ubiquitous to the modern world. A newspaper cartoon shows a haggard-looking woman in a doctor’s office with an evident case of the flu. The doctor is saying, “Take this prescription and stay in bed for four days…” (she gives him a withering do-you-know-how-much-I-have-to-do look) “…two days? one day? an hour?”

If you number yourself among the stressed, depressed, and hard-pressed, chances are you’re all too familiar with the how-dare-anyone-advise-me-to-rest feeling. Even if we don’t consciously tell ourselves that the world will fall apart without our support, every time we think “I have so much to do” we signal our adrenal systems to prepare for emergency mode–which doesn’t lessen the fatigue any. And the solution we really want–for the overload to miraculously disappear without further effort on our part–is about as likely as an ivory-billed woodpecker showing up in Central Park.

We can’t keep going indefinitely on effort and vain hope. Sooner or later, our wills break under the strain, and we’re reduced to (at best) going through the motions under a perpetual cloud of despair, sure things will never improve, hating the world and our place in it. 

Sad to say, this is one of the areas where there seems to be little difference between the typical Christian and the typical nonbeliever. What makes sincere Christians “grow weary and lose heart”?

Judging from the Scriptural context (Hebrews 11-12), a typical cause is taking our eyes off Jesus, His work, and the “better country” He has promised. Like Peter, we let ourselves hear the noise raised by “waves” of worldly confusion; we glance away from our Savior to our circumstances; a glance becomes a gaze and we forget where our focus belongs; and the next thing we know, our faith has gone AWOL and we’re sinking helplessly into a pile of worldly concerns. And all too often, we show less of the right natural reaction than Peter did. Instead of immediately crying out, “Lord, save me!” and letting Him take it from there, we try to swim to shore on our own; or we look at the hand God offers us and demand to see its Coast-Guard-approved logo before we take it.

A substantial part of me really doesn’t want to be pulled out of the waves of overload–not at the cost of letting go of my pride, admitting I was a poor judge of what needed doing, giving up my “right” to manage my own time and To Do list, committing myself to God’s superior wisdom rather than insisting He conform to my desires. That’s where childish foolishness becomes sinful rebellion: fully aware that God knows better, I still demand my own way over His. I insist on finishing everything that “needs” doing before I take time for something as unimportant as resting in His presence.

If finding joy in Christ means anything at all to us, we have to let go of our pride in “doing” and learn to pay attention to Him before “everything” is finished. And that attention has to be listening rather than talking. Only then can we truly absorb His strength. 

And only in His strength are we capable of obeying the command to “not grow weary and lose heart.”

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    Bible quotes used in this blog are from the New Living Translation or the New International Version (1984). See http://www.biblegateway.com/ for copyright details.
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