Rest from Weariness
By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul wrote some comforting words that have echoed throughout the ages and have been a source of comfort and hope for Christians in difficult times. He wrote, “…we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
Afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. That’s quite a list of afflictions that Paul had accumulated throughout his life and ministry. As you read through the Book of Acts and Paul’s epistles, you will no doubt be struck by all of the trials, threats, and difficulties that he encountered for the cause of Christ. May I suggest that what you and I have been through pales in comparison to what Paul and many of God’s followers have experienced throughout the annals of Christian history? All except one of the original disciples of Jesus died a martyr’s death for their faith in and testimony of Christ Jesus. In ancient Rome, crowds by the tens of thousands would gather in the Coliseum to watch as Christians were torn apart by wild animals. Christians throughout the centuries have given their lives for the cause of Christ.
Rather than riches, fame, power, and glory, followers of Christ have throughout history experienced great difficulty and persecution. So much so, that Paul and the other gospel writers often wrote to prepare their fellow believers for what would inevitably come by the hands of evil-doers, unreasonably threatened by the message of love, hope, and eternity.
A believer living in today’s world faces many trials and tribulations. Often, we may become weary from the constant, if not daily, battles. Some of those battles are of our own making. Others are not.
Often, as we live in a dark, evil, broken world, we will be subjected to unreasonable evil and ungodly destructive processes that seek to destroy. As you come against these demonic forces day by day (even moment by moment), you will experience weariness from the battles. There is a fundamental need that emerges from our battle with sin and rebellion that produces weariness. That need is rest!
Are you weary from doing good? Are you weary from fighting off discouragement? Are you weary of being misunderstood or misinterpreted? Are you weary from not being heard or your thoughts or feelings being disregarded or flat-out rejected? Are you weary of being taken advantage of? Of being overworked? From expectations which have mounted up? Are you weary of fighting for truth and expending your energies for righteousness and good? Are you weary of doing good?
If you are, then you need to rest! In fact, weariness and fatigue are some of the major causes of discouragement and defeat.
Remember the story of Nehemiah? He rallied the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem to rebuild the broken down walls of the city. After much difficult labor and facing increasing threats and discouragement, when they had reached half of the height of the walls, it was reported (Nehemiah 4:6), “The strength of the burden bearers is failing, Yet there is much rubbish; And we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall.” The strength of the laborers was giving out! They were worn out and physically and mentally exhausted. They were tired, weary, and worn down.
It is interesting to point out that exhaustion usually occurs somewhere around midway through the task or mission. That’s when it often hit my wife, Shawn, and me on the mission field. Half-way through our term is when we felt like we had hit a wall—that our efforts were useless and our endeavors were coming up short. The deceiver would plant fear and discouragement in our minds and we had a choice to make. Would we obediently continue to serve, share, speak God’s truth, and share His love—or just give up and go home? Honestly, there were many times when either of us would voice, “Let’s just go home!” This is exactly why the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention gives missionaries furlough.
And that is exactly why serving in high-stress locations requires wisdom and discernment. It’s often why many pastors burn out and give up on the ministry. This is hard work. A pastor is charged with caring for God’s flock—and the demands are endless. They never diminish and they never go away. So, tell your pastor you love and appreciate him or her today. Oh, but what a wonderful blessing it is to follow after the heart of God and minister to, lift up, and love on His children. That is truly what all of us, as followers of Jesus are called to do, isn’t it? And when you are really serious about serving the Lord and ministering in His name—then you are going to grow weary in a season or two.
Are you weary of doing good? If not, then get busy! If you are, then don’t quit—get some rest so that you may serve with joy and energy—so that you may love out of thankfulness and graciousness—so that you may labor with all that is within you. As Paul said to the Galatians (6:9), “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Isaiah declared (Is. 40:31), “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” David wrote in Proverbs 23:4, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it.” And Jesus said (John 15:2), “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
Are you weary of doing good? Do you know what you must do? The first thing that Nehemiah did when he noticed the fatigue was to give everyone a little time off to rest. The next thing that he did was reorganized the effort. We read in Nehemiah 4:13, “…then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows.”
Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 4 that “we do not lose heart” for “we preach Christ Jesus as Lord.” Paul reported that although we are afflicted, even facing the threat of death, our “inner man is being renewed day by day” and any “affliction is producing an eternal treasure of glory.”
Join me in proclaiming, In the name of Jesus, I confess that I am a believer, not a doubter. Though affected, not crushed—though confused, not despairing—though persecuted, not forsaken—though struck down, not destroyed! I am yours, Oh, Lord! Amen!
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary. You can read more good Christian news from Dr. Jack Hodges HERE.