Owning Up to Weariness

Years ago I was coming home from a meeting late one night. This particular meeting had not gone well. It had lasted too long. Some spoke to others in a manner that seemed curt, abrupt, and lacking in grace.

I was tired–very tired. I left the parking lot of that church building and began the drive home. I came to a red light and felt a surge of anger, disappointment, and exhaustion. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. I slammed my hand hard on the steering wheel. The frustration wasn’t just with the meeting. Rather, this emotion was the culmination of numerous episodes of life that were draining and exhausting.

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I felt weary.

I suspect that you have felt this way at times.   

  • Weariness comes when you witness your friends go through marital turmoil and finally divorce.
  • Weariness comes when you know you should have thick skin, but lately one of your critics has really been getting to you.
  • Weariness comes when a particular person you have been praying for for months finally comes to church. Then, you find out that no one even spoke to her.
  • Weariness comes when you experience deep disappointment with one of your children. Your daughter is having an affair with a married man. Your son was fired from his job for misappropriating funds.
  • Weariness comes when you are in a congregation in which there is much strife and division. You are very tired of this.
  • Weariness comes when you feel disappointed with life in general.   

Sometimes weariness comes not as the result of any one problem or crisis. Rather, it feels like one problem is being stacked on top of another. Finally, you wonder just how much more you can stand.

Somewhere in the midst of this weariness, we are called back to a God who will not let us go.

(Psalm 63:1-8)

1 You, God, are my God,
   earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
   my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
   where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
   and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
   my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
   and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
   with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
   I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
   I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.

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11 thoughts on “Owning Up to Weariness

  1. Jim,

    I am feeling as you describe, weary, at this point…this message couldn’t have come at a better, more appropriate time for me. Thanks to you…and to the Holy Spirit. It helps to know that there are others who empathize in some of these ministry matters.

    Blessings,
    Don

    • Don, I am glad that in some way God could use this. As you no doubt know, there is often much grief in ministry as we experience both our own grief and the grief of others. All around us there seem to be losses of some kind.

      Grateful that you left this comment Don.

  2. Hmmmm….at this point, I think I’ve moved past weariness to resignation and feeling jaded, with peaks of moving on emotionally. Very strange. It’s like I’m learning how to care or to care differently so that I’m not so emotionally vested in some things. I know that God is in all of it and I need to fully surrender and cooperate with what He’s trying to do. Leave the baggage of the past behind, REALLY leave it behind and walk into what God has for me without needing to prove that I was right or so misunderstood and mistreated.

    • Pat, I really like your second sentence: “It’s like I’m learning how to care or to care differently so that I’m not so emotionally vested in some things.” Seems like a part of ministry is for us to learn how to care. As I look back, I can see that I cared about somethings far too much (often because of the way I was treated or perceived, etc.) On the other hand, I can think of times in which I wish I had cared enough about a particular situation to do something. On other occasions, my exhaustion caused great confusion for me as I tried to sort through my own feelings of caring in a a body/spirit that was very weary.

  3. Another excellent post! Oh, yes, these are such true statements about how weariness comes! Been there and the best thing for me was just to read exactly what you’ve shared from Scripture. I needed to learn to be still and know that He is God. Still get weary at times!

    • Thank you very much Karin. Knowing weariness first hand has a way of creating space for the encouraging, comforting, and reassuring words of God.

  4. what a perfect post for us–will share with Scott. We are coming to know a whole new brand of weariness. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement–a beautiful psalm.

    • Anne, so glad you found this post meaningful. I like the way you express this in your second sentence: “We are coming to know a whole new brand of weariness.” Can’t tell you how often I hear these words. Sometimes it is a person entering a whole new season of life. Sometimes it is a new job/career. At other times, it is a jarring life experience that is new to that person.

      So often, there is an aloneness that comes with this. Or at least, for some people, it seems to feel this way much of the time. Perhaps this is why the Psalms have meant, and continue to mean, so much to me.

  5. Jim, You hit the nail on the head in pointing us to the Psalms. It reminded me of a story I remember from one of Nouwen’s books (Spiritual Direction). He had an opportunity to meet Mother Teresa and took that time to share with her in detail some struggles he was having, hoping to get some spiritual direction from her. After listening while he laid out all his problems, she simply said: Spend one hour a day in adoration of your Lord and do your best not to do anything you know is wrong (paraphrase). That was it! At first he was puzzled, as she didn’t even speak to his problems at all! Later, he realized that, while he was speaking to her from below, she had given him an answer from above. The Psalms do this for me, as do some other books that have come to mean a lot to me over the years (some of which you recommended to me when you lived and worked here in Florence). Thanks!