The following is an excerpt from my free devotional, Rest in Jesus: 7 Nighttime Devotions to Calm an Anxious Heart. Download the full pdf for free here.
After three weeks of social distancing due to the coronavirus, our eight year old was having a hard time. (Three weeks!?! Wow, that was lifetimes ago!)
He was sarcastic, argumentative and just plain discontent. Like much of the country, we’ve moved from comfortable routines to online school and a LOT of togetherness. While we’ve enjoyed the extra walks, board games and movies, things were just off. (And after five+ months of Covid-19 impacting every aspect of our lives, from work to schooling to health, anxieties continue to simmer and bubble over.)
During the talk with our son about his attitude and behavior, sighing I said, “This is hard for everyone right now.” He immediately started crying. He needed the freedom to acknowledge his feelings and know that it’s okay. He needed to grieve our normal – and so did I.
Instead of saying, “We all are having a hard time and you need to shape up!” it was important to recognize our weakness in that moment and to collectively grieve. God doesn’t say, “Life is hard, get over it, buttercup!” God says instead:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NASB)
This is a familiar verse; but in the midst of hardship, we often think God wants us to prove ourselves, to demonstrate how strong we are. These difficult times, however, are really proving grounds for His presence, His peace and His promises – and the deepening of our faith in those truths.
Rest is a gift from God.
If we figure it all out, if we pull ourselves together to present only our Sunday best to Christ, we have nothing left to surrender to Him. As we recognize our weakness, we can place that burden that’s too heavy for us with the Creator God. He’s handling this – I can’t and therefore I shouldn’t.These difficult times are really proving grounds for His presence, His peace and His promises. Click To Tweet
The late Elisabeth Elliot, a prolific Christian author and missionary, said this of her ability to handle the loneliness that accompanied her suffering following the murder of her missionary husband Jim Elliot: “I didn’t. I couldn’t. I have to turn it over to Somebody who can handle it.”
She said her loneliness became an offering to God: “Lord, here it is. I can’t
handle it.” Like Elisabeth Elliot, we can turn our weaknesses over to God as an offering. (Source: Suffering is Never for Nothing)
“Lord, I can’t handle it. Here’s my — [sleeplessness, despair, fear, anxiety, loneliness, dread]. You take it. I trust you with it.”
When we sacrifice control over our trials, weakness and sin, we have no idea what God will make of them for His glory – both in us and through us to minister to others.
God understands when we are overwhelmed. His care for us is rooted in the knowledge of our weaknesses. He doesn’t comfort us in spite of our fragility, but because of it. He doesn’t draw near to us because we are capable of rescuing ourselves, but because we are not. He doesn’t offer rest because we’ve earned it, but because without Him, we can’t truly experience it.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2 (KJV)
You’re not okay – and I’m not okay, either. At night, as we desperately seek the repair that our bodies and our minds need, let’s honestly come to God with our fears. Cry out to him in your distress.
Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1922
Father, I’m tired and my exhaustion makes me fearful for another night without sleep. You don’t hold my humanity against me. Thank you that you can be trusted with my weakness.
I can’t handle it, Lord, but you can. I offer you my weariness with trust that you alone provide true rest.
This post is taken from the Rest in Jesus nighttime devotional. Do you need a few minutes each night to settle your mind and anxious heart with God-given peace and rest? If so, download it for free today!