It's the most... Wearisome time of the year!
“The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.” - Proverbs 30:1
I was just searching for a previously sent email when I stumbled upon some words I sent to a friend in late 2018. He had asked me to consider and respond on the topic of "weariness." While this is not strictly a Biblical study on the subject, nor is it based on any one Scripture, I think it might minister to a few folks who are in those holiday doldrums and are weary as 2019 comes to a close. I know that I am swamped with end-of-year responsibilities on many fronts.
So, may this find its target and lift some spirits and do as the book of Isaiah says to all of us who are His disciples (but specifically to Isaiah in context... emphasis mine):
“The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught, [a disciple]
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.” - Isaiah 50:4
Here are some general thoughts and experiences with weariness:
SOURCES & CATEGORIES
One of the first considerations when one is weary is to reflect on the source/category. What is the root, and what category does it fit within? Some examples of categories are:
Physically weary - Just dog tired. Worn out and in need of sleep and rest.
Emotionally weary - Experiencing pressures and emotionally draining times. This could be sorrow, grief, fear, anxiety, etc.
Spiritually weary - Grieved in the soul, or possibly after an intense spiritual victory, there can be a letdown from the “mountaintop” experience (like Elijah after victory over the false prophets… then in the cave, he sort of spiritually collapses).
Relationally weary - Being worn out by a pattern of relational interaction or behavior of another. It could be a work relationship; family - spouse, children, or parent; a neighbor…
Other/combination - Typically debilitating weariness is a combination of these things. Often it comes from not having a place of peace to escape to.
While the remedies to weariness in general may have some common traits, each category of weariness requires some specificity to bring about the restoration of peace. The most basic remedy is “change.” For weariness to be dealt with and alleviated, change will be necessary.
Physical - Obviously, rest is the main remedy for exhaustion, but it may also require an increase in physical activity. Exercise to build endurance, increase metabolism, bring greater clarity of mind. A change of diet/nutrition can bring about major changes in energy levels… as well as the timing of eating. Rarely, there also may be some chemical imbalance which needs to be investigated medically. There is an acronym used in evaluating depression which also can apply to weariness: HALT = Am I - Hungry Angry Lonely Tired.
Emotional - With some experiences which bring weariness are unavoidable. Losing a spouse or loved one is one difficult example. Things will not go back to the way they were, and emotional weariness can easily set in. The change (slow change) in this regard is often one of two possibilities: A) Change in perspective from what was lost to what was not lost. i.e. focus on the good of the memories and what the blessings were from that person… even their legacy which carries on instead of all the “future possibilities” which will now ever come about. This is not a conversation to have in close proximity to the actual passing of the person, but the ideas can be gently introduced and modeled over time. B) Change in recognized dependency and true reality. That person was a blessing because God gave them to you. So, looking to the Giver over the gift is important. God still loves you. God still cares. God does not take the passing of His saints lightly (In Psalm 116:15, the term translated as “precious” has a range of meaning “costly, weighty, priceless” as well as “splendorous, magnificent, noble, beautiful”) Additionally, the reality of heaven is often lost on us here in the west where we like to think we can control most everything in life. There are other forms of emotional weariness (stress, etc) which can cross over into the physical. The main remedy to these will be in the general remedy to all weariness at the end.
Spiritual - with deep wounding or coming down from the mountain, we must hide ourselves away in Christ as our refuge. Press in to the Savior. A spiritual challenge requires a spiritual solution. Christ and the fullness of His love, character, and nature is the remedy. He is the great Counselor. We might even need a friend to “go with us” to the Savior and “keep watch” while we pray.
Relational - Long-standing irritations are hard to endure. One change here is the change of perspective of the irritant. That irritable person was made in the image of God, just as you and I were. There is something within them (yes, “sin nature” but also a specific need or yearning or hurt or conditioning through upbringing, etc) which is driving their behavior - and they most likely do not even realize what they are doing. Often, instead of avoidance, the solution is actually to press in. Show the love of Christ and become an “explorer” in their life. Not to “fix” them, but demonstrating genuine love can often (not always) provide a platform to gently but clearly confront the behavior. It is important to focus on the specific behavior and not the person in general. “When you say _______ it really gets under my skin and hurts my feelings” is much different than “You always hurt my feelings.”
In all these, there is an element of Faith and running to the Lord to find our rest in Him. We must see Him as He is - a proper understanding of the character and nature of God as well as His deep, rich Fatherly love for us. Then we must find our refuge in Him and in His presence. This requires a growing Faith - trust. Situational weariness will resolve over time - Trust the Lord to work it out, be willing to obey and do the part He calls you to, and endure. Non-Situational weariness requires the tearing down of mental strongholds by identifying the lies we have believed and continue to believe, then replacing them with Biblical truth through Scripture memory and prayer. Every time the lie is whispered in our ears or appears in our heads, identify it and replace it with truth. Eventually (this is one form of spiritual warfare, but extends to all causes of weariness) the truth takes the place of the lie and the stronghold is broken down.
One true remedy is a regular time of rest, or Sabbath. I consider a “Sabbath” not to be doing nothing, but engaging in the things that are “life-giving” instead of “life-draining.” If having your hands in the soil of your garden is life-giving and causes you to glorify the Lord, then do it on your Sabbath. That would NOT be mine, but it may be yours. Sabbath is not inactivity… it is intentional focused activity on recovery from the week and worshipping the One who gives us life. Taking a Sabbath when you don’t feel like you need one is one of the best ways to never/rarely “need” one. Taking a Sabbath is an act of Faith. Trust Him. He commanded this priority to us for a reason… the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
ALSO, if you have never taken an extended time of solitude, I would highly recommend trying it. Take a 3-Day weekend (2 nights at least) and get away as alone as you possibly can. Be with Jesus in His creation. Completely unplug… no email, nothing that plugs in or uses batteries… and just BE with Him. Look at things with new eyes. Breathe. Pray. Rest.
The opposite of weary is rested/fresh/energetic/ready to continue. There is some fountain the Lord has provided to restore and re-create within each of us. We need to engage in those things.
Just as there are genuine remedies, there are also false remedies which do not actually restore or re-create anything good within us. Some common ones are: Television (this is “A-musement” i.e. the lack of thought), others are distractors that do not bring joyful “soul-nourishment” but instead an emotional “sugar high”.
EARLY WARNING SIGNS
If you have a tendency toward regular experiences with weariness, it is important to learn some early warning signs in yourself so you can head it off before the weariness fully sets in. It could be a thought pattern, a daydream of escapism, listening to a certain type of music, avoiding things which are good for you (exercise, time with others), etc. These early warning signs can be very helpful, not only for you to take immediate steps to get back on track, find a place of rest (whether figurative or literal), or to call in a friend or loved one to bring them in to the conversation. When the signs show up (most of the time they will come before the onset of full weariness), it is important to prioritize your overall health by taking the time necessary to rest and recover... even if it is only a quick breather such as a 5-minute walk, stopping to look around at the wonder creation around you, or a brief time of prayer.
Hope that helps some. Love you, brothers & sisters!
May God continue to bless you, and others through you,