The Right Way to Respond to Weariness - A Repost

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Yesterday, I shared with you an older post discussing the wrong way to respond to weariness. Today, I’d like to share with you the follow-up to that devotion: The Right Way to Respond to Weariness. I want to talk with you about the right way to handle the overwhelm and disappointments of life.  Let's begin with John 4:1-42.

“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

— John 1:1-42

I know that's a long passage, but I wanted you to see the entire story.  It helps to understand precisely how far Jesus went to step outside of his discomfort and reach out to others.  Verse six tells us plainly that Jesus was wearied with his journey.  He was tired and, no doubt, discouraged.  He had come to earth to minister to others, but it seems He made as many enemies as He did friends.  Many clung to His teachings while others cast Him out, claiming Him to be blasphemous and an imposter.  Day after day, He journeyed, fulfilling His mission to draw others to Him, and He was fatigued.

It's easy for us to overlook the fact that Jesus--though 100% God--was in a human body and therefore subject to all the same physical distress to which we are subject.  He got hungry, thirsty, tired, weary and so much more.  At this point in John 4, we see where He needed a rest.  He had been busy about His Father's business, and the effort had taken its toll on His physical body.  So, He stopped by the well in Samaria and rested while the disciples ran off to find some food.

At this point, the Samaritan woman enters the scene.  I could teach several lessons about her, but that will have to wait until another time.  For now, let me point out that she was coming to draw water in the middle of the day because she was a laughing stock among her people, particularly the other women.  To put it nicely, she wasn't of the utmost moral standing.  But that didn't hinder Jesus from reaching out to her and offering her what He had to give--Himself.

He could have ignored her.  After all, Jews didn't talk to Samaritans.  They didn't even like each other because of various disagreements between their peoples.  No one would have thought it odd for Jesus to dismiss her and focus on what He really needed, which was rest.  But Jesus knew the secret to dealing with weariness in the right way.  You don't lash out at others; you reach out to others.  And that's exactly what He did.

After a somewhat lengthy and personal dialogue, the woman comes to understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.  Upon her realization, she drops her bucket and runs off to town to spread the news.  Interestingly enough, the disciples had just returned from town with some lunch, but there's no indication they spoke to anyone about Jesus.  They were busy meeting their own needs and dealing with their weariness.  In short, they were self-focused, much like the children of Israel were in our previous devotion.

Upon their return, they offered food to Jesus, but He calmly told them He had food of which they weren't aware.  In response to their confusion, He declared, "My meat is to do my Father's will."  In other words, "There's something much more important here than filling my stomach."  Jesus understood His body was weary, but He looked beyond Himself to see an entire village who was spiritually weary and discouraged.  

Ironically, the woman also looked beyond her own needs and risked the ridicule of the entire town by rushing off to tell her tale.  She didn't have to.  She could have kept the information to herself.  After all, with the way everyone treated her, they didn't really deserve an opportunity to meet the Messiah personally, did they?  Evidently, she never even considered such a thing.  She told everyone she could find and convinced them to travel with her back to the well to meet the Messiah for themselves.  Because of her faith and her decision to reach beyond her weariness, many in the city believed in Christ.  What a tremendous impact she had on the town that day!  I'd like to think people saw her in a different light after that.

Both Jesus and the woman displayed selflessness even in their moments of weariness.  They chose to look beyond themselves and their own needs and to reach out to help others.  And what each of them discovered was that their response was healing and restorative.  While they may have each still been physically tired, there was a new light in their eyes and spring in their step.  Their hearts were lightened when they chose to reach out instead of lash out.

What about you?  How will you respond the next time weariness and discouragement strike?  Will you complain, blame, exaggerate and express ingratitude as the children of Israel did, or will you reach out to others who may be weary as well?  The first will leave you miserable while the second will completely shift your perspective and give you a new reason for making the most of every situation.  Lash out or reach out?  The choice is yours!

Choir or Chaos?

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Typically, I’m a sucker for birdsong. There’s nothing so soothing and beautiful as a walk in the woods or a time of relaxation in my backyard while the birds serenade me with their songs of joy and contentment. I love it! But one day this week, the song was not so sweet.

As I sat in my chair trying to have my quiet time with the Lord, I noticed an agitation in my spirit. At first, I couldn’t identify its source, but as I quieted my thoughts and became more present of my surroundings, I immediately tuned in to the birdsong. It was as if every bird in my yard (and there are a lot) was singing a different song with a different tempo. Instead of blending their voices in harmony, their varied and overlapping songs created chaos. And it was that “noise” that had caused my heart to race and my mood to shift. The discord of their conflicting melodies reached my inner spirit and brought about feelings of anxiety and stress. All of that from birdsong. Who knew?

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized how much those birds remind me of those of us who are believers in Christ. Sometimes, we get so caught up in doing our own thing, singing our own song, and being our own person that we forget how to unite with other believers. While the Bible calls us to be separate from the world, it does not advocate being separate from one another. But in this day and age, we’re so busy fighting over non-doctrinal issues like clothing, music styles, and whether the church carpet should be tan or blue, we’re causing discord within our ranks. Is it any wonder the world wants nothing to do with us?

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing individual churches drawing away from one another. I’m sick of hearing one pastor belittle another. I’m weary of the robes of self-righteousness worn by those who claim to want to share the love of Christ. We’ve become so caught up in our standards and preferences we’re creating nothing more than a noise that is turning the lost away from the gospel. We’re so focused on being different from (aka, better than) one another that we’re becoming more like the world in that we’re filled with pride and causing strife and division. In our desire to be set apart from the world, we’re putting a bad taste in the mouth of the lost. When they look at the church and see only discord and strife, why would they want to be a part of that? I can’t say I blame them.

But what if, instead of each trying to outdo the other, we learned to get along and accept our differences? What if churches could meet together in harmony and make beautiful music that would entice the lost to come? What if we focused less on our preferences and more on the truth of God’s Word? I believe the noise would become a heavenly melody—one that would honor, glorify and please our heavenly Father.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we may not agree on everything, and that’s okay. As long as we believe the Bible and hold fast to what it says (not what we think it means), we have enough in common to get along. There’s no reason for there to be strife within God’s family. There’s no justification for division among the children of God. Let us put aside our differences and seek to love one another as God would have us do. And in doing so, we’ll make beautiful music the world cannot resist!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
— Psalm 133:1
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
— Romans 12:10,18
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
— Romans 14:19
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
— Ephesians 4:1-6

Borrowing Faith

It happened again. The past few posts have been an outpouring of some of my most embarrassing and secret struggles with trusting God when things aren’t working out the way I think they should. Whenever I feel God prompting me to open myself up like that, I balk. Who wants to publicize their spirituals battles? Not me! But it never fails that when I obey, I receive a letter, email, or message from someone telling me how much they needed to hear what I had to say. They cannot say enough about how much it means to them to know they’re not alone and not the only ones struggling with such raw emotions.

As I read in Lysa Terkeurt’s newest book this morning, I came across two quotes that made me smile, and I wanted to share them with you.

Sometimes when you can’t find your footing with your own faith, you just have to go stand on some else’s for a while.
— Lysa Terkeurst

Oh, I like that! I love the thought of being able to stand on someone else’s faith when mine is weak and wobbly. But even more so, I cherish the idea that someone might be able to stand on my faith when their own is crumbling beneath their feet. That’s what my ministry is all about. That’s why I pour my heart out in writing and share my most secret places with my readers—so they can know they’re not alone. And if something I say gives them enough hope to stand upon my faith while they’re working to repair their own, I say, “Praise the Lord!” This leads me to Lysa’s second statement:

When you make one other human simply see they aren’t alone, you make the world a better place.
— Lysa Terkeurst

I believe that. I know what a joy it is for me to read through a fellow Christian’s struggle and realize they’ve put into words what I hadn’t been able to. They were describing my feelings exactly, like they’d been shadowing me and reading my thoughts. And at that moment, though I mourn for them in their struggles, I find comfort in knowing it’s not just me. There’s peace in discovering I’m not the only Christian who argues with God or doubts His goodness from time to time.

To be honest, I have no idea where I’m going with this. I guess I want to remind you, first off, that you’re not alone. We all go through stuff, and some of it is downright ugly. Welcome to life! But I think I’d also like to urge you to be open with others. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles. Your honesty may be exactly what someone else needs today.  

If you’re in a place where you feel your faith is crumbling from beneath you, I would be happy to let you borrow mine. I won’t say it’s the greatest or most secure faith, but I think it’s strong enough to hold us both while yours is under repair. You’ll get through this—whatever “this” is, and God will make something beautiful from it. Trust in Him. He never fails.