Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:4-10, 4:8-10
I’m usually a peaceful person. Not because I’m some shining example of holiness and righteousness, but rather because I hate conflict. I hate wondering what someone is thinking of me, or the instant remorse that comes from wishing I had somehow avoided hurting another person. I hate trying to calculate the best offense or defense, or expending mental energy that is so hard to come by. I just want things to be stable, like a raft floating down the river on a sunny calm day. I hate rapids and waterfalls and unexpected boulders in the way. But sometimes I can’t dodge them. Sometimes I hit them head on, and it never fails to make my chest feel tight and my thoughts race. And then all my energy is focused on this one crisis until I’m just too tired. Tired of being pushed around, either physically or mentally or spiritually or relationally. Things interfere with my quality of life and hold me captive in spite of my best efforts.
Most of the time, when this kind of thing happens to me, I assume that this is just the way things are. I mean, life wouldn’t be life if there were no periods of stress or hurt or anxiety. As long as these episodes are limited to a few hours or days, I can pretend that my life is a sitcom, and at the end of this little charade I’ll see a positive resolution. What happens though, when these issues go on for days and weeks and months? When you are exhausted mentally and emotionally, and medicine isn’t working and counseling isn’t working, and prayer doesn’t feel like it’s even working? When you are tempted to throw up your hands and say, “That’s it! I’m done! I can’t take not one more thing going wrong in my life!”
I’ve come to realize that this is the hallmark of a spiritual attack designed to distract you from fulfilling the purpose God has for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best Christian in the world, there are times when you get to the end of yourself and you have had enough. You’re empty. There’s nothing left to say, nothing left to give, and almost nothing left to hurt. There’s a point where you’ve been hurt again and again, so many times that you’re finally numb because your mind and your heart shut down, unable to bear the brunt of one more attack. This is the point where we finally understand what it means to be weary. Not tired, not just fed up, not merely at our wits end, but truly weary. Times when you feel like walking away, only you can’t because your children need you, or your parents need you, or your spouse needs you, and if you gave up right now it would just confirm the very thing that the enemy keeps telling you over and over, “You’re a failure. See? I told you so. I told you that you couldn’t survive this.”
It’s at this point God reminds us in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 that we are not alone in feeling this way. The apostle Paul is reminding us that people are watching us as citizens of the kingdom of God to see how we will respond. My first reaction to this knowledge was to get angry. “What do I care?” I thought. “They’re not helping me anyway. They have no idea how bad things are going for me right now. I don’t have a single ounce of energy left to be worried about their opinion.” But the verses aren’t referring to the opinions of other people. They are referring to the identity of God as it becomes displayed in us. When we are, “…beaten within an inch of our lives but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many, having nothing, having it all.”
When you are this level of exhausted, a spiritual platitude is not going to transform your mind. But a spiritual truth? That’s a powerful weapon when wielded the way God intended. And the truth is that no matter how tired you are, you cannot give up. Not now. Not while your children are watching. Not while you’re in this narrow tunnel with the end of this trial coming sooner than you would ever believe. Do not allow yourself to be defeated. Find comfort in the knowledge that you might feel like you have nothing, but you possess everything. That’s why you haven’t given up yet. Because somewhere deep on the inside of you, the Spirit of the Most High God is nudging you forward and you cannot be stopped. You are pressed but you are not crushed. You are persecuted but you are not abandoned. You are struck down, but you’re not destroyed. You’re carrying around the death of Jesus inside of you, yes, but also His life. And because of that, you might feel like you have nothing, but you do indeed possess everything. One step at a time, Sweet Friend. You’re tired, but you’re going to make it. You might feel like you have nothing, but hang on. You have it all.