My dad passed away in June of 1999. He wanted to see the new millennium and survive until 2000. Sadly, he didn’t. But I remember thinking, I wonder if I’ll see 2020.
Apparently, I will, but this past year was challenging, and I wasn’t sure I’d survive. I won’t bore you with the details, but I can honestly say 2019 was a long and grueling year for me.
And I’m tired. REALLY tired.
Like my bones ache, and I occasionally fantasize about vacationing in Hawaii. (Oh, yeah, that’s happening for real, soon.)
For those rushing through this post and already thinking about the great advice you’re going to give me, please listen first. And please stop ruminating about the scriptures you can quote to help me. I already know them. I quote them to myself regularly. Seriously.
I’m not suicidal.
I’m not depressed.
I’m not quitting on God or life.
Yes, I take a regular Sabbath. Yes, I do have margin in my life. Yes, I know the value of being filled with the Spirit.
I’m just a bit worn out, and it’s okay.
How can that be fine, you ask?
Because there’s a difference between bad tired and good tired.
Bad tired is when you don’t make wise choices. It’s when you don’t rest at all, and don’t have any margin in your life. Bad tired is the result of living badly. (I know, brilliant, huh?)
Good tired is different.
Good tired is the way I felt after summiting Mt. Hood or finishing the Portland Marathon. (Yes, I did, twice.) I was utterly exhausted yet exhilarated at the same time.
Good tired is when you’ve not grown weary in well-doing, but you know that every noble and godly thing you did was still costly.
Good tired is when you keep moving forward even when every step hurts.
Good tired is when you lay your head down at night to sleep, and you find yourself saying, “Dear God, I left it all on the field today, but You amazed me again because You chose to use a broken guy like me to do some pretty cool things.”
When the prophet Isaiah encouraged the weary, he said, “Even youths grow tired and weary” (meaning, don’t be discouraged by your exhaustion, it happens). But then he wrote, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”
I need you to notice something here: only those whose strength is spent need renewing.
Isaiah wasn’t scolding people for being tired or even for stumbling and falling at times. Not at all. He acknowledged the reality of our struggle and occasional weariness as humans.
But he also gave us the answer: hope.
Those who hope—meaning those who put their confidence in the Lord—get refreshed and restored.
Let’s be clear: Weariness is not a sin; hopelessness is.
We can be wiped out; we just can’t lose our focus, and we must keep our eyes on the One who gives us hope.
Hope keeps our eyes on the finish line.
Hope sustains us when we feel spent and empty.
Hope whispers, I know you’re worn out, but hang in there. A harvest is coming.
As you and I enter into the 20s, they might be the roaring 20s or the rip-your-gut-out 20s. I don’t know.
Perhaps you’re begging God to make the next decade easier than the last.
Maybe, however, a better prayer is, “Holy Spirit, come. Continue to infuse me with Your strength. Help me keep my eyes on Jesus, who endured the cross for the joy to come. I want to run with perseverance, and I know that is only possible as I hope in and abide in You.”
Yep. Ready or not, 2020 is here, and it’ll be okay.
My exhaustion is a good sign of someone committed to a massive mission that cannot be accomplished without ongoing help. So I’m desperate for Jesus, and that’s a very good thing.
And my tiredness is a healthy reminder of Who I need most. More of Him. Less of me.
And that’s a very good thing too.