Fatigue comes in several forms. There is the aching muscle fatigue of physical labor such as loading cargo, weeding a garden, carrying water bottles, and even cleaning a house.
Emotional fatigue is the tiredness of grief, the exhaustion of sorrow. It is relieved somewhat by physical rest, but not completely. Just as grief and sorrow return so also does the sense of being wrung out.
But not all emotional fatigue is negative. I’ve been tired from laughing. Sometimes the joy God puts in my heart and the resulting smile on my face makes my face muscles tired.
One of the most distressing fatigues comes from worry. In the mental effort to fix or control circumstances, the human mind and heart quickly become exhausted, even to the point of becoming irrational. God never intends that we worry. It is the antithesis to faith.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. (Matthew 11:28–29)
I’m glad Jesus did not specify the source of fatigue. It could be spiritual burdens such as the consciousness of sin, fear of judgment, doubt (akin to worry), a rash of severe or diverse temptations, or other trials of faith. It could be from physical labor or emotional distress, even the tiredness from excitement and joy. Whatever causes the fatigue, He says, “Come to me.”
What does that mean? When He was on earth, it is easy. Just find Him and physically go to Him. However, He is unseen now and that requires a change from seeing to believing, from sight to faith. I cannot bodily go to Jesus, but I can go to Him in my thoughts and affections.
This week’s lectures covered the idea of Israel’s worship cycle. The Psalms offer information on how people were brought to a place of worship. Just as we do, they gathered at their Tabernacle from all sorts of situations. Worship might be difficult on any given day because their cattle were dying, or a child was sick. Like us, these worshippers could be distressed and fatigued from any number of distracting issues.
To get everyone on the same page, the worship leaders began with a song/psalm of praise. This put minds on God and His greatness. Then they would sing a lament psalm, with words describing their trials and needs. These psalms include an expression of hope in God with a request for deliverance, then a promise to glorify Him when He took care of their needs.
Lament psalms put everyone on the same page. Whatever our trouble, we can find that others experience similar troubles. These psalms tell us that we are not alone in our trials, but also encourage hope in God.
The next song in the cycle would be a psalm of thanksgiving, always offered publicly to encourage others about the power of God to deliver them from their troubles. Thanksgiving has another purpose — when I am thankful and expressing thanks, I cannot worry, doubt God or even sin.
It seems to me that coming to Christ involves this cycle. First, I put my mind on Him, who He is and what He has done. I tell Him my troubles, but also express my desire to glorify Him when He answers my prayers. After doing these things, being thankful completes the cycle.
Sometimes people think they have to be in church or take a trip to the Holy Land to come to Jesus, but He knocks at the door of our hearts. He also promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He is as near as a prayer, a tear, a sigh, and I become aware of His nearness just by thinking about Him.