An Open Letter to the Tired Christian

Tired Christian, Jesus doesn’t need you to work harder. The work was completed on the cross.

Advertisements

When I opened my laptop to write today, I found myself staring, blank-faced, at a blank page, and suddenly the keyboard seemed like a perfectly acceptable pillow. I am so tired. It’s a familiar phrase on my college campus, but we’re far from the only ones battling exhaustion. Every church on Sunday will be filled with weary people, all pretending to be strong.

This post is for the Christian who is tired.

This post is for the woman who has nothing left to give.

As we should, Christians often remind each other to put the needs of others before their own. Philippians 2:3 instructs us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” But Satan is a master of twisting the truth to suit his own needs. It’s true that we are called to sacrifice for others, but it’s a lie that taking care of ourselves is selfish.

It’s true that we are called to sacrifice for others, but it’s a lie that taking care of ourselves is selfish.

Work is part of God’s design for the world. In Genesis, God commands Adam and Eve to work the garden and take dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:28). But after sin entered the world, work became a burden instead of a gift. God says to Adam in Genesis 3:

“Cursed is the ground because of you;

through painful toil you will eat food from it

all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

and you will eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your brow

you will eat your food

until you return to the ground,

since from it you were taken;

for dust you are

and to dust you will return.”

Sin turned rewarding labor into a painful struggle. This curse will not be entirely broken until Jesus returns, but in the Old Testament, God knew that we could not withstand such a burden every day without a reprieve. In His divine provision, He established the Sabbath.

Just as God rested on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2–3), He commanded that all people dedicate the seventh day of the week to rest.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8–9). The command is repeated in Leviticus 23:3, and both times, it is accompanied by a warning. If any Israelite did work on the Sabbath, the punishment was death: “Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people” (Exodus 31:14).

As one of the Ten Commandments, rest was a command for followers of a God, not a kind suggestion. It was so important to God that any attempt to abolish Sabbath was worthy of death.

As one of the Ten Commandments, rest was a command for followers of a God, not a kind suggestion.

Even the weekly rest was inadequate for God’s people. In addition to the Sabbath day, God established the Sabbath year for the Israelites’ agriculture: “For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the Sabbath year will be food for you…” (Leviticus 25:3–6).

God wants us to offer Him everything we have, but He understands our tired. From His earliest laws to the present day, He made allowance for our limited power.

When we read Proverbs 31 through modern lenses, we see a woman who never awoke with dark circles under her eyes… a woman of boundless skill and unreserved compassion… a woman without limits. But according to Old Testament law, that woman dedicated an entire day of her week to recovery from her work.

Does this mean that a Christian shouldn’t do any work on Sunday? Is that God’s permanent plan for recharging us? No. But the truth is even more beautiful.

In Colossians, Paul writes these words of encouragement to modern believers: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:16–17).

The ancient Israelites could depend on a weekly reprieve, but modern Christians are called to find their rest in Jesus.

When we’ve given Jesus everything we have, he takes our humble strength in his hands and says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

When I say, “I have too much homework to read my Bible today,” Jesus says, “I will give you rest.”

When I say, “I am too unstable in my spiritual life to strengthen anyone else’s,” Jesus says, “I will give you rest.”

When I say, “I can’t change this broken world by myself, Lord,” Jesus says, “I will give you rest.”

While I am striving, struggling, and straining to be Christlike, Jesus offers me his eternal strength in exchange for my human weakness. While I am consumed by God’s work, God is trying to draw me into His rest.

While I am consumed by God’s work, God is trying to draw me into His rest.

This message, while true for everyone, is especially important for young women. Society (and often, the church) has impressed upon us that we are the emotional gender, designed to be compassionate, to serve, and to encourage. We (and our brothers in Christ) certainly are called to do these things, but not at the expense of our own well-being.

There’s a quote that pops up on my Facebook periodically. It says, “You deserve the love you keep trying to give everyone else.” I don’t know who said it; there’s no attribution. But I cry every time I read it again.

Sisters, you are not a failure if you need an hour alone, to find yourself again in the quiet. You are not less of a Christian for saying “no” to a church event or a dinner with friends in order to take a desperately needed nap. You are not less of a woman for being unable to meet everyone else’s needs at once. As a beloved daughter, created in the image of God, you are also called to take care of yourself. It is not needy to have your own needs. It is not selfish to value your self enough to take care of it.

You are not less of a woman for being unable to meet everyone else’s needs at once.

Over the past year, this lesson has been beaten into my bones over and over again.

I cannot offer comfort to anyone if I have been bottling my own tears behind my eyes, never to be shed, never to be acknowledged. I cannot speak God’s truth to anyone else if I haven’t had the time to read God’s Word for myself in weeks. I cannot continually empty myself if no one else is pouring into me.

And that is okay.

We were not designed to constantly serve in our own strength, but to meet Christ at the end of ourselves, and ask him to bear our burdens as only he can.

Nevertheless, in this divine rest, we must guard against laziness. Proverbs 24:30–34 warns us against allowing holy reprieve to become deadly complacency. In Matthew 12:9–12, Jesus tells the religious leaders that if they ignore a man’s immediate need for help in the name of the Sabbath, they have violated its true purpose entirely.

We were not designed to constantly serve in our own strength, but to meet Christ at the end of ourselves, and ask him to bear our burdens as only he can.

But again, I am reminded of David. I am filled again with a poignant longing for the peace he knew in the midst of immense trials. In the Psalms, he is being pursued by his enemies, hunted unto death. With danger on his heels and kingship calling on the horizon, David knows that the greatest act of faith he can choose is to rest in God.

Psalm 3:5–6:

“I lie down and sleep;

I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear though tens of thousands

assail me on every side.”

Psalm 4:8:

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,

for you alone, Lord,

make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 23:1–6:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.”

Tired Christian, Jesus doesn’t need you to work harder. The work was completed on the cross. All your labor is a footnote in the incredible story of salvation, and it’s time for you to stop writing, put your pen away, and rest in the promises of your Savior.

God’s work will still be here when you’ve been refreshed and revived by the Living Water.

Author: daughterswillprophesy

A little in love with kitten GIFs, Reese's cups, dragon books, and shamelessly performing the rap from "Lane Boy" (twenty one pilots). A lot in love with Jesus and advocating for his daughters.

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Tired Christian”

  1. Well this is a God send.

    I have spoken about how God provides and grace is enough and that Christ gives us rest, but I seldom act like it. Agh it has been so easy to get caught up in the desperate song and dance that betrays my true religion to self justification and ideas that maybe God won’t actually provide this time. Thank you for this Laura.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s