As we begin our series on healing, it seemed like the best place to start wasn’t with a specific trial, but with the feeling that you just “can’t”. Sometimes the problem is one BIG thing, but most often it’s not just the big stuff, it’s the entire pile of stuff! Life seems filled by a couple big things, some medium sized challenges and then all the little frustrations get added in. And it’s the little things that on their own would be no problem, when stacked with everything else, makes you feel like the whole world is out to get you. It seems like they come at you day after day in an attempt to drain the joy out of life and cause you to feel like you’ll never finish fighting.
I’m pretty sure you’re already envisioning your own past experiences dealing with exactly what I’m saying.
Sometimes you feel like you just can’t do it or deal with it anymore. And a millisecond behind that feeling is the knowing that things could be a lot worse and you don’t really have anything “that bad” going on. Then you kind of feel guilty for even thinking that you can’t do what’s right in front of you. And that just makes it worse. Haven’t we all been there?
Maybe it goes something like this—sick kids for days on end. You barely have time to wash the germs from one of them off your body before another one starts to come down with the same symptoms. And then there’s the additional laundry, special food requests, your regular job, childcare, housework, errands, your other kids who have practices and last minute projects, orthodontist appointments, and the husband you know you have but you haven’t actually seen or talked to in weeks because life is just this revolving door of exhaustion. We all have those seasons.
So what do you do when you wake up in the morning and force yourself out of bed, fighting hard against the desire to simply disengage and skip all this stuff? And how do you find God in it? And what does he want you to find in this anyway?
What if all you’re supposed to find is him?
Here’s my take on struggles. He is not DOING this to you, but he is ALLOWING you to walk with him through it. Yes, walk with HIM through it. Life is hard. And there isn’t really an answer to that “Why?” question. Walking through the valley is grueling, and sometimes it seems like we’re there WAY too often and for FAR too long. But when we’re in the valley, we can’t stop walking. We can’t set up camp and decide to stay. We simply have to keep going one step at a time. And in the desolate place, we find that we’re not really alone after all. We experience relationship with our father (God) in the valley that we wouldn’t have been able to see on the mountaintop. We find that he carries us when it’s hard; he encourages us when we doubt, and he strengthens us when we’re weak.
2 Corinthians 12:9 is a verse I lean into when I’m weak, And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” I’m reminded of the truth—I don’t have to be “strong enough”. I don’t have to fix it. I don’t have to force it. But I must engage his grace and receive his power.
The best way I’ve found to do this is through rest. Yes, I’m talking about all forms of rest. If you can go someplace quiet and lie down and focus your heart on God for at least 15 minutes, that’s fabulous. If it’s more of a place where you’re still doing the things you need to do, but you tell your mind to rest and you’re breathing in his peace, that’s great too. Cease. Stop. Breathe. We can’t put it off, and we can’t tell ourselves that we don’t need it or that we don’t have time for it. I don’t need to force myself to be stronger. I need his rest. You need his rest. We all need his rest! It’s ok to tell him that you can’t do this; he already knows.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Resting is a challenge for me. It does not come naturally. It’s hard for me to stop moving, both physically and mentally. But I’ve learned the value of rest. There have been TONS of moments where I have chosen not to engage his rest. I’ve pressed on and pushed beyond my limit. I’m not the only one who pays for that kind of mistake. My family pays. They feel it when I snap at them for one of those stupid reasons like spilling the contents of a cup or better yet, spitting the liquid that was in your mouth across the room because your brother made you laugh. Or when a bowl of cereal (and milk) goes cascading across the kitchen because one of my kids was being silly and thought they’d dance their way to the table. When a harsh word pops out of my mouth it hurts. It hurts them and it hurts me. I don’t want those moments. I want the grace filled ones where we can laugh and live and clean together. But in order to get to the those moments, I must choose rest. I must surrender myself to that sacred place. It’s in those quiet moments where either my mind or body (or both) is still, that God speaks to me. His words—his love—change everything. My circumstances are exactly the same, but the way I see it, and myself, is different.
There are many good books on rest. And if you’re able, I’d encourage you to search out some of them. But there are times that you really don’t have any extra moments for reading aside from the Word, and if that’s you, there’s no pressure here. Just embrace God, and let him embrace you. Start with one small passage and read it over and over (for days and weeks if necessary) until it’s penetrated so far into your heart that it’s changing you.
[Place Your Life Before God ] So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 The Message
I totally understand that this looks different at different stages of your life. Most of the time, it looks a little different every day. Rest with a baby or toddler looks different than rest with teenagers. Rest when you’re working full time looks differently than rest for a stay at home mom, or a work at home mom. Not one of these places or seasons of life offers us an automatic place for rest. It is space that we must make though—it recharges our soul, it invigorates our mind, and resuscitates a faltering heart. He invites us to come, to lay our burdens before him and receive his rest.
So what are you waiting for? Rest. Yes, right now. At the very least, close your eyes, breathe him in, and breathe the weight out. Start with a simple prayer, “God I am weary. All this stuff is wearing me down. Show me how to find you, to find joy, and find myself. I know that you are with me. I need you right here, right now.”