I’ve been feeling weary lately, and I know that some of you are as well. If you’re not feeling this right now, it will be coming at some point in this life. I’ve attached a couple of articles for you all to peruse, that could be helpful for any of you wrestling with this very thing right now. And, perhaps my thoughts below may be of some guidance and encouragement as well.
Life is hard. We face opposition in everything we do— from work, to parenting, to friendship, to dating, to exercise, on and on. I write, “opposition” rather than “challenge” because challenge in itself can be a very good thing, something that moves us to press forward, that can motivate us to godly productivity, being what God created us to be— His image bearers as we create and tend to stuff.
Yet, opposition is entirely different. Opposition is feeling the weight of every aspect of life crushing down on you, sometimes all at the same time. Opposition is facing grueling difficulty, both external and within our own hearts, as we deal with the mundane as well as the exceptional experiences of every day life. We can face opposition as we seek to accomplish great things, as we seek to simply manage everyday things, or as we wrestle uncomfortably with boredom.
Opposition, and the negative emotions we experience as a result, come as a consequence of humanity’s fall into sin (cf. Gen 3)— because of sin, all spheres of creation have become alienated from God and alienated from one another, all things are in opposition, all things are at enmity.
Emotions are an important component of our humanity, were created good by the Lord, yet they can become so strong, so dominant, that they can become the primary lens with which we view the things of our lives, and we can begin to lose track of what is true. What we feel as a result of the opposition we face, resulting from our spiritual alienation, can become for us the reality within which we live.
At the same time, these same emotions can be a thermometer for us, they can indicate for us what our hearts are really longing for, if we learn to listen to them, work our way through the various complex layers of emotions, ask questions of our hearts such as: “what am I feeling?” “why am I feeling this?” “is the cause of this feeling true?” “what is true— about this immediate situation, about this person in front of me, about myself?”
We see the Psalmist doing this as he speaks to his own heart, which is in the throes of despair, longing, and loneliness in Psalm 42: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (asking the questions, naming the emotional experience dominating him) “Hope thou in God! For I shall again praise Him my savior and my God,” (speaking the truth of God’s reality to his own heart).
Understanding our own hearts, naming our emotional experience which can become a life-lens, having discernment on the circumstances impacting us through particular forms of opposition, learning to speak God’s truth to our own hearts— the only source of lasting hope and comfort— these are disciplines of the maturing Christian life. Something that requires time, silence, pushing away of distractions (such as more work, more entertainment, more striving).
This is the very thing Jesus spoke to Martha about in Luke 10:38-42, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things…” In her anxieties— her emotional lens— she distracted herself with spiritual work, making Jesus comfortable; yet failed to realize that what she needed and what Jesus desires to provide, is rest. In this instance, rest looked like Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to him. In other instances, enjoying rest through Jesus’ grace looks like Elijah being served bread and told to sleep by the Angel of the Lord.
In both instances, the Lord seeks to care for the heart, mind, emotions, and body of His people. Yet, for this to happen, God’s people must detach themselves from the apparent immediacy of all of those impending areas where we feel that continual opposition, and step into a place of silence, where God can remove the scaffolding which we surround our lives with, and bring real rest, His rest, gospel rest for our souls, which begins and ends in our personal encounter with Christ.
TV does not bring rest. More work does not bring rest. More organizing, or pinning more stuff to our Pintrest board does not bring this deep rest that we all need. More likes on our Facebook post does not bring rest. These things can be fun. They can spur on our creativity. They can help connect us with others. But, they cannot bring the rest that Martha longed for, that Elijah needed, that the Psalmist cried out for, “As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee…”
Draw near to Jesus this week. Find a way to draw near to the Lord for an extended period this month. All of us are busy, but none of us feel the necessity for busyness as much as Jesus must have felt, who withdrew regularly to quiet places to pray.
If he was tempted in every way as we are, yet is without sin, do we not think that he felt all that we feel and more? Even our temptation toward acedia (which is what these attached articles are about).
Draw near to the One who has attained rest on your behalf. Let’s pray that the opposition and the accompanying emotions we experience, become opportunities for the Lord to show His grace to us in new ways.
In the love of our Lord,