Why Being Tired Is Not Enough

It’s still four months until the presidential election, and I’m ready to start a political party called “Sanity” and hold rallies for it. By myself. With no slogans or controversies in sight.

Every day seems to bring a new headline of something horrific happening in the world, followed by discussions of why this is worse than that, how X led to Y which will eventually lead to really awful Z, and who, today, we should be yelling at.

I am tired of the petty meanness of the world.

I’ve heard the term “empathy fatigue,” and I wonder—is that what happens when you fall into a routine of graceless social media, endless politics, relentless suffering? When you look at a calendar booked solid with red Xs marking out bad news and realize you won’t have a vacation from it until Jesus comes back? When there are bruised and beaten people on the side of every road, and you are one Samaritan with a cart and a donkey…and you’d rather pass along on the other side and forget by immersing yourself in a smaller world—your family, career, social media, Pokémon Go—anything you feel you can control?

There is so much noise, and all I want is quiet, just for a little while.

But when I pull away from the chatter and clamor to listen, I realize: I am tired of the petty meanness of myself. That’s why I hate it so much outside of me, because I see it and it is familiar. And that startles me. I don’t like admitting it.

Sometimes I walk around like a mass of prickling jealousies and resentments, easily offended and often offensive because I care about myself more than you. Even when I keep it hidden, I can feel it under the surface. I am prideful and judgmental and vain. I want what I can’t have and take for granted what I do have. I don’t care where I should and care too much where I need to just let it go.

That’s important to admit, I think, instead of pointing to all of that awfulness out there—those other people who make bad decisions and come to stupid conclusions and lack compassion—and pretending you’re not part of it.

But even that is not enough, being tired with the world and yourself.

You have to take your tiredness somewhere.

I think and talk a lot about how we can’t put our hope in our circumstances or our leaders or our Christian nation that really isn’t. Check. Got it. I am sufficiently skeptical about the fallen world around me. Sometimes so much that I forget that there actually is hope.

Maybe you’ve forgotten too. It’s easier to grumble about the state of the world and weep for the broken things around us and stop there.

It’s easier to be exhausted.

I wonder if that’s where people were during Jesus’s ministry. The Romans shuffled them out of brutal conquest mode and into their status as subjugated slaves, wearing them down with taxes and rhetoric about Caesar the Savior. Religious sects bickered and added sub-rules to rules, relics of an almost-forgotten past where God actually spoke to his people. Eking out an existence was hard work, and even making it to another day felt like a stretch goal in a world of sweat and toil and pain.

It was to those people that Jesus first said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Rest

This would have sounded familiar to them, echoes of when God spoke to Moses and David and the prophets—always promising rest.

And he still says it to us.

Do you know why I have a hard time accepting this? Because if I just acknowledge a broken world and how tired it makes me, there is no risk. Everyone will agree with me, and I don’t have to do anything but mourn, which comes effortlessly to me.

If I go to Jesus, it might mean:

  • Opening my Bible every morning to look for what the passage teaches me about God, not just what I can yank out and apply to my life and my problems.
  • Praying “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” like I really believe it can happen…and being willing to take part in that.
  • Worshiping not for the temporary rush of emotion it gives me, but as a way to declare truth about God back to him.
  • Giving up my witty cynicism (super cool!) and trading it in for faith (which, let’s face it, has never been cool).
  • Anticipating Jesus’s return, and living like it will happen soon.

That’s hard.

And part of me, the faithless, fearful part wonders: what if I go to Jesus with my burdens and he can’t carry them—or won’t. What if there is no change?

But I remember, from routine readings that didn’t have immediate application and dimly-remembered prayers: when someone meets with God there is always change. If I take a risk and spend less time listening and more time talking, if I seek after him instead of myself, if I put down my burdens instead of just talking about them to others, he is faithful to keep his promise.

I am tired, but he is faithful. Always.

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