When You Are Weary and Need the Strength to Carry On
In John Piper’s book, Desiring God, he shares a memory of his mother laughing so hard at the dinner table the tears ran down her face. He describes her as a very happy woman. This image imprinted on my heart. It is a memory that I would love my own pixies to possess. A mother characterized by laughter, embodied by joy.
The truth is some days I am overwhelmed, so weary that joyful is a far cry from how my little ones might see me. I snap. I cry. I stress. This is not what I want to leave as my legacy.
What do you do when you are so weary and lack the strength to carry on?
Emotions can rule and control. Pride often blinds. There are never enough hours to get everything done in a day. The list seems to grow not shrink. This creates anxiety and the spirit of unrest.
God wants to impart to us a life of strength. He desires us to discover a life of joy.
Over the next three posts I hope to explore the connection between joy and strength. How do we obtain the strength to accomplish more than we imagined possible? What kind of joy brings strength? How can I leave my pixies with a legacy of happiness rather than weariness?
Nehemiah 8:10 will be key to our study: “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Let's explore together.
Part One: Disgust at the Taste of Evil
Far Too Easily Pleased
In his sermon, The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis says that we are too easily pleased. It is often quoted but I wonder if we truly grasp the significance of this statement for here and now.
“...it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Pleasure is the anthem of our culture. Everything rests on what pleases us. We love to be entertained, we love to consume, we love to air our voices in the forum. We are a generation enslaved to our desires. We glory in this fact. We are shameless in our pursuit of pleasure. But we are rarely satisfied.
The enemy has done a great job of taming our palates. The taste of what we feast on is sometimes good, sometimes evil, but rarely holy. We settle for scraps when a gourmet meal is within our grasp. We are never satisfied so we never find joy.
We are far too easily pleased. We have lost our ability to feast on God.
Feasting on God
Several weeks ago our pastor was preaching on the holiness of God. He was challenging the church that we no longer approach the Lord in terror and awe. He prophetically said, “We do not have a worship problem today, we have an awe problem.”
If we truly beheld Him for who He really is. If we opened His Word with reverence and awe, expecting the Spirit to search out the deep things of God, we would taste and see that the LORD is good.
This is what our spirits hunger for. This is what our thirsty souls need. We need to feast on the Living Water and the Bread of Life. “‘I am the bread of life,' Jesus told them. ‘No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.'” (John 6:35)
If we are not feasting on God, we will never be satisfied.
“God is not worshiped where He is not treasured and enjoyed ... To say to Him that something else satisfies you more is the opposite of worship. It is sacrilege.” (Piper)
And here is the key. If we are ever going to discover joy, a kind of joy that produces strength, it needs to find it’s source in God Himself. He must be our deepest joy. Next week we will look at finding our joy in the hope of heaven. However, in order to rejoice in heaven we must first lose the “taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”
Full of Him
When we feast on God, we find we are full. We are no longer unsatisfied. There is a fullness that can only be found in tasting and seeing that He is good. The paradox is that it leaves us satisfied even when we still hunger for more...more of His goodness, more of His mercy, more of His love. The earthly pleasures are metallic in our mouths ... they disgust us because we have found infinite joy in Him.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11
We find ourselves desiring heaven. We discover that we are satisfied, and joy begins to characterize our being.
Because when we get a taste of God, He is all we want. And He is enough.
*Stay tuned for part 2 on When You Are So Weary and Need the Strength To Carry On: Joy in the Hope of Heaven