“Come to me, all who labor 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.”
One step in front of the other. That’s the way I got through a weary day recently. Looking back, it reminded me of a story of Gideon and his army in the book of Judges.
In chapter 7, we see this crazy experience of amazing trust as Gideon follows God’s instructions that ends up taking an army of 32,000 and narrows it down to simply 300 men. God was going to make the ever so clear that any victory they had was not because of them, but because of God himself fighting for them.
It’s one of my favorite stories especially as God understands Gideon’s fearful hearts in going against such a large nation as the Midianites. And so God provides the encouragement they need to continue in trust. With some jars and trumpets, simply holding torches in their hands, the army was defeated. As we turn the page into chapter 8, after a long night of battle they then have to deal with some of their own who are likely jealous that they could be part of this victory.
Understandably, this made them even more exhausted. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as getting through a tough battle in life just to have people criticize the way you did it. When we get to verse 4 it says this:
Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing.
Weary, yet pursuing.
Exhausted yet keeping up, another translation says.
Faint, yet pushing on.
Sometimes in the weary world, we can choose to rejoice.
Sometimes, a weary world just needs rest.
Other times, like was the case for Gideon and his army, we’ve got to simply keep putting one foot in front of the other. God had given them a purpose and a mission and despite how weary they were they had to move forward. It’s hard. And it often seems the most difficult when, in the midst of a broken, sinful, wearying world, we’re working against the tide trying to do good.
Paul in the Bible knew and experienced this as well. Yet, he had these words for the churches of Galatia:
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
Press on, weary world.
Eyes. On. Jesus.
The best is still to come.
Don’t give up.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: As soon as I hit “publish” on Tuesday’s post (A Weary World… Rejoices) suddenly many other phrases came to mind of responses to our weary world, most of them from Scripture… and thus, a blog series was born. Join me in the coming days to explore our weary world.
This past Sunday part of our time in the high school Bible class was spent discussing the Christian’s response to violence and war, in general, as well as specifically in our time and context. Opinions varied, though I was thankful to hear that all sought to land on the side of love and grace. We debated back and forth and read scripture of how to seek peace above all things, honor those in authority over us, stand up against injustice in the world, and above all, love.
Perhaps there’s another response found in these words of Jesus that I never would have thought to bring into the conversation:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
One response to weariness: rest.
Whenever I see a problem, my first instinct is to try to fix it. When an issue arises, I want to respond. My perfectionist tenancies complicate this as I not only desire to respond, but feel pressure to get the response exactly right. So when I see brokenness, pain, grief, shame, and destruction in the world, I easily can become overwhelmed and weary, especially when the issues are WELL beyond my understanding let alone control. Perhaps in those moments the best thing we can do is nothing at all.
How should I respond to someone who disagrees with me? Should our country/states welcome refugees with open arms or do whatever we need to do to protect ourselves? Should we go after ISIS more than we are? Should we be at war at all? Should I share that article on Facebook that fits my opinion even if I know it will stir up controversy? Should I write what I actually believe in my college paper, or give my professor what I know he’s looking for?
A time will come in some of these kinds of situations where an actual response is necessary, but first, perhaps Jesus provides another way. The prophet Jeremiah says it this way:
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)
The next time the world makes you weary, stop. Get your eyes on Jesus. If/when a response is necessary, He’ll lead the way. But until then, rest. We all know we could use some!