Thursday, September 26, 2013

What to Do with Weariness

Sometimes I grow weary. 

Ministry is messy. Life is hard. People are complicated. And I am sadly self-absorbed. 

(It doesn't help that I'm fighting seasonal allergies. And the dog has fleas [again]! And I burned not one, but TWO meals yesterday. And I broke my glasses. And I have a new mystery-rash on my hand... This is where you say, "Hey Jenn, would you like some cheese with your WHINE?" Yes, I would, thankyouverymuch!)

Anyway...sometimes I grow weary. Not just weary with myself and my own petty problems, though those can suck the life out of me if I let them. No, I may rattle off my worries, but I rarely wallow in them. The thing that makes me really weary is doing good. I get weary of trying to love others as much as I love myself. I get weary of bearing burdens. I get weary of washing feet. I get weary of hoping and believing and then being disappointed.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

But I am learning to take the long view. I love the harvest metaphor that the apostle Paul uses in his letter to the Galatians. I used to have an enormous vegetable garden, and I would work diligently all summer long--watering, weeding, fertilizing, pruning--for the hope of the harvest. Its harder to toil when the crop is people, but its also more rewarding. It sometimes feels like the harvest will never come as setbacks and missteps delay the bearing of fruit. I watch the faithful stumble, I see the seeker wander off in the wrong direction, I hear the afflicted cry for help, and I question my capacity to do good for any of them.

Indifference would be easier.

But you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing what is right. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Yet over and over the apostle Paul calls to the church, to the body of Christ, saying, "Do not grow weary in doing good!"

I've come to realize this: Jesus did not save me so that I could become a self-satisfied person. He saved me so that I could be used for his eternal purposes, so that I could do good--his good--in the world. The point of salvation and redemption is not so that I can live my best life now (my apologies to Joel Osteen). The point of salvation and redemption is so that I can be used (read: exhausted, sold-out, given-over) for God's glory. I persevere in doing good because that IS my purpose. There is no other.

Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. Hebrews 12:3

My Jesus showed me how to do it. He stayed on the cross when he could have gotten down. He did not grow weary in doing good.

Paul's exhortation to "not grow weary" tells me two things: 1.) Doing good is tiring. It costs me something. It's hard work. and 2.) With the Spirit's help, I CAN keep going. I don't have to give up.

So I take his words to heart. I take courage from his charge. I preach this truth to my own weary soul. And after a few moments of refuge with the Lord (and a hot cup of tea) I go back into the fields, ready to work.

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