It’s easy, as the year draws to a close, to become weary, even if our weariness is the result of good work. Scripture encourages us to press on, but how, exactly, are we supposed to do that?
By Boyd Bailey, NCF
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
–Isaiah 40:30 (NIV)
There is a good weary. We can be weary in the Lord’s work and not be weary of the Lord’s work. And our sleep is sweet when we know we have exhausted our efforts by doing his will.
Trust and hope in the Lord allow us a real rest. We are weary, but our fatigue is healed by our faith. Our smile may be faint, but our heart is full of God’s grace and peace. His Spirit empowers our work, and he will provide for our rest when it is done.
In contrast, there is an unhealthy type of weariness that strives in the power of the flesh. It is the result of misguided motives. Perhaps we become driven by the fear of people. We are preoccupied with not wanting to let someone down. If our fear of people transcends our fear of God, we default into performance-based living. It saps our energy and leaves us feeling depleted. Worry is wearisome, and fear is fatiguing. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). The Lord is your hope and strength, but even as you experience accomplishments, you can quickly lose faith because you haven’t cultivated a hopeful heart.
When you cultivate hope, you wait on God’s timing. You have more than you need of this precious commodity, so you can share your hope and encouragement with others. Practitioners of hope can extend hope to other fainthearted souls, because they know both what it’s like to feel stress and how to leave that stress at the Lord’s feet (1 Peter 5:7). “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). Don’t defer the opportunity to practice hope. Carve out time with the Father to rest. Ask him to teach you to practice hope.
Riding the wind to win the race
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
–Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
An eagle soars almost effortlessly. His flapping is strategic; he never overexerts. He can’t create or direct wind, but he greatly benefits from its silent effect, and he’s hopeful that the wind will blow again tomorrow. But if it’s boisterous and blustery, or it it’s too mild, he may wait in his nest, positioned in the cleft of the rock until the right time. He experiences rest and renewal while he anticipates the energizing power of the unseen wind. In the same way, the Holy Spirit lifts those who are waiting in hope to be empowered by Him.
You can run God’s race with patient endurance, but the ability to do so comes through the process of cultivating hope and practicing rest and renewal (2 Corinthians 4:16). Learning to hope in God expands your capacity. You can run farther in the renewed strength of the Holy Spirit. This is eternal energy that comes from God. Hope in the Lord uses your weariness to direct you to rest; then the wind picks you up to be your strength for your next work.
What about you? Can you begin practicing rest in God today? Can you wait long enough that your faith can sprout wings and the real wind of the Holy Spirit can empower you? What (and how much) might you be able to do if you did?
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for Your Spirit who strengthens and empowers me to walk with you and be who you’ve called me to be, in Jesus’ name, amen.