01 February, 2017

Let's not become weary

Today I was encouraged by a sermon from our home church that I listened to over lunch. It included this verse:
And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good (2 Thessalonians 3:13, NIVUK).
Then I spotted a similar verse on a calendar on the wall: 
Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord (Romans 12:11, CEV).
One of my favourite "parenting" verses is very similar:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9, NIVUK)
And from that it is a short leap to one of my favourite passages:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB).
After a long, tiring day yesterday, and then faced with tired, flagging kids this morning, it is tempting to feel like giving up. My weakness is to think that if I don't get enough sleep, I won't be able to cope, so these tired days are challenging.

I had opportunity to talk to our eldest this morning, encouraging him that amidst his currently challenges, particularly of too much to do and too little time, God will meet him and help him, even if it is hard to identify exactly how God's hand intervenes. I tried to encourage our son not to give up. 

I was born with an extra strong dose of perseverance (my parents would have called it stubbornness when I was a child). So I don't generally find sticking with something too difficult, but I also have a personality that makes it hard to persevere with something that I'm not enthralled by. That's when I feel most likely to give up.

But obviously God knows our human weakness and propensity for giving up, for flagging in our enthusiasm. He realises our tendencies to move on to easier or more exciting endeavours, for he repeats this encouragement, even command, to not give up several times. 

How do we not give up? The key is in the Hebrews passage above: keep our eyes on Jesus. You know why?

Because God is an expert at not giving up. It says so many times in the Bible. Here's one example:
For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (Ps 100:5, NIV).
Not just is he an expert, but he has the power to help us:
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures for ever (Ps 125:1, NIVUK).
And that old favourite:
Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary

    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIVUK).
I knew that this season of wrestling would stretch me. Especially that it comes in the midst of the season of boys who stay up late. I nightly face the challenge of staying up until they're done and exhausting myself further, or going to bed before them and feeling like a parenting failure. It is hard. Not the first time, though, that I've faced exhaustion and discouragement in parenting. There's been nearly 18 years of good and bad times, but through it all God's sustained me.

"How has he done that?" my son asked me this morning.

I have several answers for that:

  • God has reminded me that it's not all up to me, he can give me strength even when I'm past my own reserves. 
  • He's provided loopholes or cancellations, so that I can skip out on commitments or have inexplicably resulted in less things that I had to do. 
  • He's provided other people to do the things that I can't do.
  • He's reminded me that some things that I think are indispensable, aren't actually. That I can let some things slide in a season of extra busyness and exhaustion.
  • Given me some encouragement, by various means.
  • Most of all, he calls me to keep my eyes on him, to get my perspective straight.
It was a good reminder to myself, in the midst of my own tiredness.

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