Whether a star player in a football match or the good guy in a Western movie, most people like a hero. The Bible has plenty of stories of heroes, such as David slaying Goliath. Not that the good guys win all the time. Sometimes they don’t. One such biblical hero is Gideon. His story can be found in the book of Judges.
In the time of Gideon, the Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites, who came to plunder the land and the harvest. Gideon was raised up to lead the people. With just 300 men, they defeated the Midianites and pursued them. “Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing” (Judges 4:8, NASB). In other words, they were weary from the battle, but they were still pursuing their enemy to complete the task of winning the war. That phrase stuck in my mind, “Weary yet pursuing.” Let’s look at the concept of being weary.
WHAT IS WEARINESS?
Dictionaries define “weariness” as total exhaustion, tiredness, often by much toil. It is also seen as “impatient of the continuance of something” i.e. weary of something that is happening to you.
We see that today. People are weary of COVID and the effects it has had on just about every part of people’s lives. People are already weary, and the challenge of COVID is not over yet. Even Paul, when he gave his list of hardships in 2 Corinthians 11, talks about weariness and toil (v27).
THE EFFECTS OF WEARINESS
Weariness causes many things, including burnout, breakdown, etc. Probably the most common effect is “discouragement,” which saps the inner strength of many people. Everyone has faced being weary and discouraged in times of stress and strain. The question is, “What is the answer to being weary?”
THE ANSWER TO WEARINESS
Jesus gave an excellent answer to “weariness” when He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden [weary], and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NKJV). Now initially, Jesus is referring to the heavy burden of Jewish legalism of that day, but it can be equally applied to weariness in general. He goes on to call people to “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29&30, NKJV).
So as in all things, the answer is Jesus, embracing His promises and His provision. He is there to lift us up when we are weary and heavy-laden. The writer of Hebrews tells us to consider Jesus, “lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3, NKJV).
Let me suggest three practical ways to do just that.
1. WAIT ON THE LORD
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV) says,
“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
We need to understand that strength comes from waiting on the Lord. What does it mean to “wait on the Lord?” Very simply, it means to spend time in His presence, particularly:
- Time in the Word. Spending time reading, studying, and meditating on scripture is something we should do daily.
- Time in prayer. Entering into His presence, enjoying His company, praying, and spending time “with Him” in prayer.
- Time in worship. This is not just for when we go to church, but it is a way of life. We are to enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4).
Spend time with the Lord, and your weariness will give way to His strength.
The Lord instituted a commandment to the children of Israel to keep the Sabbath. “My Sabbaths you shall keep” (Exodus 31:13, NKJV). As such, it was part of the law given to Moses and was intending as a day without work. A day to remember and reflect on the God of the Sabbath.
We are not necessarily bound by the Old Testament laws, but the idea of a Sabbath was for man’s benefit. Choosing to make it a day of rest and a day of worship still has its benefits today.
One time, I was ministering in New Zealand. When I woke up one morning, I was sick, and I knew it. So, I applied everything I knew. I prayed the prayer of faith, and I rebuked the devil. I claimed the power of praise, etc. Nothing changed.
I eventually stopped praying, and I listened to the Lord. He took me on a day-by-day view of what I had been doing the last 30 days. I had been on the go, morning till night, for all that time. Then the Lord asked me a question (He already knew the answer), “Why do you think you are sick today?” I had to admit it was because I had been neglecting the principle of the Sabbath. So there and then I repented. I ended up back in bed all day and woke up completely well.
One of the reasons the people are weary today is the lack of God-guided rest. Try taking a Sabbath regularly.
3. GET THE HELP OF OTHERS
Weariness can come from trying to do everything yourself without the help of others. Galatians 6:2 (NKJV) tells believers to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” So often, we try to do too much with only our own resources and thus wear ourselves out. Living is meant to be a team effort involving others in our lives. Paul reminds the church at Galatia, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9, NKJV).
So there you have it, practical ways to overcome “weariness” that leads to discouragement and then to depression. We started with Gideon so let’s finish with Gideon.
WEARY YET PURSUING
There are times and even seasons of life when it is impossible to avoid ending up weary. In those times, we need to heed the example of Gideon and be like him “weary yet pursuing” (Judges 4:8, NASB). In those times, God will give His children extra strength through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. The way is to be like Gideon and not give up but continue though, “weary yet pursuing”. Let’s persevere.
Winston Churchill once gave an unforgettable message to a group of students. It included the words, “. . . . never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in”. In other words, keep moving forward. “Weary yet pursuing” your goals, the vision God has given you, the needs of the moment, the challenges of the time.
So, even if we are weary, let’s be like Gideon and be “weary yet pursuing.”