I remember hearing one minister who preached twice and taught a class every Sunday morning talk about how tired he was Sunday afternoons. He said he usually didn’t even feel like eating Sunday dinner, and joked that his wife would spoon food the baby, then a bite for Dad, then the baby, then Dad. What a picture!
We usually see teachers and preachers when they are enthusiastically exercising their gifts for the building up of the body of Christ. We see their intensity and are drawn into their zeal. What we don’t usually see is how they feel afterwards. And it’s not just the ministry of the word which tires. Intercessory prayer may leave one trembling. Entering into the suffering of another in such a way as to demonstrate the presence of God not only requires the servant of God to be fully engaged in the difficult experience, but may leave him/her feeling quite drained. Being a channel of blessing can be exhausting.
Does the idea that spiritual activity can make one tired surprise you? Physical exertion makes one physically tired. Emotional engagement makes one emotionally tired. Doesn’t it follow that spiritual activity might make one spiritually tired?
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted.” Isaiah 40:29
Often we are too quick to tell the weary that they wouldn’t be tired if they were doing it right. Certainly those who rely on their own strength for ministry will soon burn out, and weariness may be a sign that one is relying on his own strength rather than the Lord’s. But those who serve by God’s power and speak and act as the Holy Spirit prompts also need rest—including spiritual rest. David understood this: “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.” (Psalm 3:5) In Isaiah 40:28-31, the only one who never grows weary is God. (Does that mean that if you think you shouldn’t ever be weary, then you think you are God?!?) God never promises that his servants won’t need rest, only that He will renew the strength of those who wait on Him. And “wait” implies some length of time before each blessing.
One who waits on the Lord can sometimes do the impossible—soaring like the eagles. And sometimes those who wait on the Lord will find themselves running further and faster than they’d ever imagined as God renews their strength. But sometimes when we land after soaring we need to rest. Isn’t this at least part of the reason for the Sabbath?
Others may not understand your need for rest. And you may never understand what God is doing while you wait, or why refreshment seems so slow in coming. That’s okay. Wait for the Lord. He understands, and He is the one to whom you will give answer for everything. He is also the one who gives you rest!
Ann Doyle 6/12 Holland, MI