Ezer Equipped Newsletter | Weariness
Welcome to the November 2021 Ezer Equipped.
There’s a funny quote that circulates the internet, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me all at once.” And isn’t that how the last two years have felt? I am tired! Maybe it’s because I am getting older and my body is wearing out. And there’s probably some truth to that. But it feels deeper, at a soul level. I feel kind of like Bilbo Baggins when he tells Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, “I am old, Gandalf. I don't look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts . . . Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” The last two years have taken a toll on me, and many of us, in ways we are only beginning to realize. And perhaps, like Bilbo Baggins, we are all feeling a bit thin.
This kind of weariness can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It isn’t necessarily a fatigue that comes from physical exertion and is resolved through a good night’s sleep or even a restful weekend. It may, at times, even be cloaked in something else entirely. It may show up as withdrawal or isolation. It could also look like frustration, bitterness, or anger. Sometimes it looks like self-righteousness. Other times it presents as cynicism, indifference, or resignation. It reminds me of an acronym I learned about in my early sobriety—HALT, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. The acronym reminded me that whenever I felt a temptation to drink, I might actually be hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, and so I should stop, assess what I was feeling, and then address the real need. This may be a good warning for our time as well. A lot is happening in our world demanding our attention, taxing our emotional and mental well-being, and creating relational conflict on a broad scale. And perhaps, the anger, frustration, hostility, and division in our society today are really symptoms of individual and collective weariness and our misdirected attempts at finding rest and refuge. Maybe it’s time for us to stop, assess, and address.
There are many reasons we may feel weary, but this month we’re looking at four overarching categories: our own sin; suffering brought on by living in a broken world; busyness; and sacrificial serving. To make it even more complex, these categories are deeply interconnected—feeding into and making room for one another. For example, when you are weary from a long season of sacrificial service, cynicism, self-righteousness, or bitterness may bubble to the surface when your labor seems unnoticed, unappreciated, or unfruitful. This may then lead you to lash out at or withdraw from those you originally sought to love and serve. Or perhaps, busyness and the tyranny of the urgent drive you to the point of utter exhaustion and, rather than reevaluating your priorities and creating margin, you give into a sense of entitlement and overindulge in food, alcohol, or binge-watching. Or maybe you’re stuck in a pattern of habitual sin and you’re weary from trying to manage it and its consequences, which leaves you in shame, despair, and isolation from God and others. Perhaps, you’re overwhelmed by and weary from all the suffering and brokenness in the world today, but in your weariness you've become short-tempered and impatient with those around you.
The good news is that God provides the kind of rest we need in each of these areas! He invites us into his presence to find rest, refuge, renewal, restoration, and replenishment, so that we may take a new grip with our tired hands and strengthen our weak knees in our battle against sin (Hebrews 12:1–13), not grow weary in doing good knowing we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:7–9), and find a renewed hope in the future rest that is coming (Isaiah 35).
Women’s Discipleship Advisor
This month, we will explore the four different ways we may experience weariness. It might be good to focus on one section at a time—whether reading one per week or one every couple of days. As you read, notice the source, or reason, for weariness, and how God invites and renews each one.
Weariness from our own sin:
Sin, and its consequences, are a lot to manage. And managing our sin can lead to weariness. In these passages, we get to see the effect David’s sin has on him. God invites David to confession and repentance, which ultimately lead to David’s restoration.
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
Weariness from serving:
Elijah was a prophet for the Lord who single-handedly took on all of the prophets of Baal and witnessed the Lord show up in a remarkable display of his power. But in his weariness, Elijah gave way to cynicism and self-pity. But the Lord met him in that place and replenished him with tender compassion.
Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.
Weariness from busyness:
Sometimes we get our priorities out of order, become distracted, and neglect things that renew us. Martha undoubtedly wanted to serve Jesus well so she busied herself with many details—which led not only to weariness but also bitterness and frustration with the very ones she wanted to serve. But the Lord invited Martha to reevaluate her priorities and receive from him, where he could renew her in body and soul.
But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
Weariness from suffering:
All of creation groans under the burden and ongoing effects of sin. Isaiah highlights the weariness of suffering—a world marked by wilderness, deserts, and wastelands. But in the midst of lament, Isaiah invites Israel to strengthen those with weak knees and encourage those with tired hands, because the future rest of God is certain and will come in fullness!
The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
Listening to God’s truth in musical form reminds us of who God is and can refresh and renew our weary souls.
When weariness sets in do you withdraw and get quiet or lash out in anger and frustration? Do you find yourself becoming fearful, controlling, or cynical? How does weariness show up in you? What are some indicators that let you know you are indeed, weary?
There are many reasons for our weariness. We are looking at four specific categories. Consider what may be contributing to your weariness in this season. Remember, these can be integrated and one can lead into another:
- We can be weary from our own sin.
- We can be weary from sacrificial serving.
- We can be weary from busyness.
- We can be weary from suffering.
The reading passages above help us see how God offers to care for us in our weariness. Even Jesus sought refuge in the Father and withdrew to quiet places to renew his mind, rest his body, and connect with his Father.
- In our weariness of our own sin he invites us to repent and be restored.
- In our weariness from doing good he invites us to rest and be replenished.
- In our weariness from busyness he invites us to reevaluate and receive.
- In our weariness from suffering he invites us to lament, remember his faithfulness, and find refuge in him.
Your weariness is an invitation to receive care from a Father who sees you and longs to be gracious to you. What is God, through your weariness, inviting you to do? How would you complete this sentence: In my weariness from ________, God is inviting me to _____________________.
In this section, we have included possible steps for you to take based on the type of weariness you most identify with. We encourage you to do these in community with others.
If you are experiencing weariness from habitual sin, consider it an invitation to repent and return to Christ. As you read this short passage from Isaiah 30:15–18, look for the invitation, the refusal, and the reminder the Lord gives.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee. You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
Sin makes us tired. What sin are you currently struggling with? What are you relying on in your weariness? What are you turning to instead of God? God's invitation to us, even in our sin, is to turn to him. What keeps you from turning to him? What comfort and encouragement does this passage give you?
Rest and Reevaluate:
If the weariness you are experiencing is caused by either serving others or excessive busyness, consider it an invitation to reevaluate and receive what God has for you. In both the examples of Elijah and Martha, God reorients them to what is true and provides them with what they need. For Elijah, it was food, sleep, and encouragement that he was not alone. For Martha, it wasn’t a condemnation, but an invitation to rest and receive. We have created a new video resource and process guide for you to help you reevaluate, establish margin, and receive rest and renewal.
If the weariness you are experiencing is caused by suffering, consider it an invitation to lament. We often think about thankfulness this time of year, and while the spiritual discipline of gratitude is a balm for our weary souls, the spiritual discipline of lament is equally important. When we lament we name the suffering and brokenness we are experiencing and cry out to him for help. Lament actually makes room for gratitude as we remember his faithfulness to us. The Ezer Gratitude and Lament Journal gives you a step- by- step guide to help you practice these disciplines. You can either print it out using the link above or pick up a copy from your campus.
Spend time, somewhere alone, soaking in these truths. You may have to get creative. Listen as you take a bath or a short walk around the block. Play them in the car as you drive. Find a song on this playlist that reminds you of truths you most need to hear in this season and incorporate it into your day—playing it whenever you need extra refreshment, refuge, or rest. Notice which songs resonate with you most and see if you notice any themes. The songs you connect with give you an indication of what truths your soul needs to hear.