Updated: Dec 15, 2022
This article was originally published in the Finding Freedom: 40 Day Lent Devotional, 2021 by Hargraves Home and Hearth
and most recently edited for Where Joy Is publication, 2022
Weariness can come on loud and strong as life’s circumstances drastically change; like a chronic illness or a relationship fracture. But weariness can also quietly creep into the heart in ways that often go unnoticed. And anyone who has experienced great seasons of weariness understands that when weariness sets up house, it makes itself at home.
From 1997 to 2009, I was an idealistic young girl who had plunged myself into purity culture, faithfully part of the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" movement and proudly wearing my purity ring. I had signed my True Love Waits pledge card and taped it to my mirror and I frequently sang along to Wait For Me by Rebecca St. James on the radio. The thought of giving my heart away to anyone other than my future husband struck paralyzing fear into my very soul and I worked – hard – to keep my walls up and my heart locked away. It was up to me to be worthy for marriage.
From 2011 to 2015, I was part of the "Mommy Blog" culture where I posted our favorite family recipes and shared milestones of each pregnancy. The mere suggestion of working outside the home was unfathomable. I strived to not only be the best wife and the most nurturing mommy, but also the greatest homemaker, the finest cook, the smartest caretaker, etc. etc. etc. I couldn’t bear the thought of not measuring up to whatever arbitrary ideal I thought was expected. It was up to me to be a woman worth praising.
There are many good things that can - and are - used to encourage, teach, and equip others in their spiritual walk and in their daily life. But what happens when in all our doing, we forget the simplicity and the power of the Gospel? What happens when our work becomes what defines us, instead of the blood by which we were bought?
Answer: Weariness comes in like a flood.
Lots of things can cause spiritual exhaustion, but at the top of the list is our own obsession with approval and acceptance. It is our own preoccupation with our image; out own people-pleasing dedication. We will over-commit, double-book, and fill our calendars with so many events so we can be thought of as able and useful. We will adopt new opinions and emphasize personal preferences in order to appear ultra spiritual and knowledgeable. There is nothing wrong with pursuing good and righteous things. In fact, we are commanded in Scripture to do just that (i.e. Psalm 34:14; Proverbs 21:21; 1 Timothy 6:11). But when we do good things for the sole sake of gaining approval or admiration, we do a great disservice to ourselves. Endlessly endeavoring to be thought of as worthy ultimately shifts our focus to ourselves and our lack, instead of to Christ and His sufficiency. Working to appease man will never work and striving to earn favor with God will never satisfy.
This is Holy Week and as I sit and meditate on the life, the death and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, I am in awe once again at the beauty and the power of the cross. Because of Christ's once-and-for-all sacrifice, the endless sacrifices that could never fully atone for our sin are over. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29. Here in this passage, Jesus acknowledges our propensity to labor and our susceptibility to be weary from the load. Then He offers His promised rest to all who come to Him and to exchange their yoke for His. In other words:
In Jesus, we find rest and reprieve from weariness.
In Jesus, our work on earth is not oppressive, but a glorious joy!
In Jesus, it is finished.
Because of Jesus, our souls can cease from striving and, instead, rest at the foot of the cross where all the work was done for us. Isn't that glorious?