Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that we are never supposed to be weary. We just need to be stronger, to push through the weariness. That idea came right after the idea that stress is the enemy, to be avoided at all costs, a product of an undisciplined mind. Therefore, we strive endlessly and ineffectively for a stress-free, weary-less existence.
The truth is that we are not meant to live chronically stressed lives and perpetually weary days. The health world understand this by making the critical distinction between chronic and acute. An acute condition happens sporadically, sometimes severe, other times innocuous. A chronic condition is one that never lets up and either needs to be managed or simply accepted. Chronic conditions are a real challenge.
Herein is the critical nuance we need to understand. The path to a less stressed life is to accept that stress (acute stress) is sometimes inevitable. We may even want to create stress (think exercise) at certain times but let go of stress at all the other times. Likewise, there is a time to be weary and a time to rest.
Jesus made this exact point when He said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my burden upon you,… and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:28-29). Isaiah made the same point, “You have not wearied yourselves for me, O Israel” (Is 43:22). There is a time for discipline (time with God, hard work, exercise), and there is a time for rest. Our problem comes when we never rest and fruitlessly seek a stress-free world. The very effort to eliminate all stress creates the chronic stress we desire to avoid.
God’s answer is not a burden-free walk, but one where we regularly learn the freedom of experiencing burdens and then casting them on Him, of wearying ourselves in pursuit of Him and His good work through us, and then blissfully entering into His delightful rest. This tightrope balance is not easy to learn. I struggle with it daily. But the dance of weariness and rest, stress and peaceful trust is where abundant life is to be found.