Weary. That may be the best way to describe our world (and your world) at the end of 2020. But, is that the outlook for 2021 as well?
We are tired of the seemingly never-ending pandemic. Weary from the loss of loved ones. Exhausted from the injustices we have seen and experienced. Burned out of doing everything virtually. Fed up with politics. Fatigued from quarantining and being isolated. Sick of being sick and tired. Drained of being overly cautious. Jaded from broken promises. Spent from being overworked or underworked.
While all this turmoil has brought clarity and purpose to many, it has left even the strongest of us weary. But there is hope — a hope that can move us from feeling ready to drop to rejoicing!
First, let's look at an interesting promise Jesus makes in Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
First, Jesus knows of our weariness. He is not unaware. Second, He promises rest for those who take His yoke and let Him teach them. It is a promise that if we let Him walk with us, let Him carry most of the weight, and let Him teach us ... we WILL find REST.
Many times we are weary because we try to carry our burdens alone — without God and without asking others for help. Sometimes, we are weary because we have stubbornly refused to learn from Jesus and did things our way — only to lead to more headaches. But, there is hope for our weariness!
Another way our weariness can be relieved is using this time to help others. Galatians 9:9-10 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
Focusing our time, energy, and gifts on others will help give us a grateful spirit and help someone else that may be weary. Sometimes, helping someone else gives us a new perspective on our own troubles. So pray for another. Send a card, call or FaceTime someone who can't have visitors. Reach out. Get food delivered to someone else. Don't stop giving just because Christmas is over.
Lastly, let's follow the wisdom found in Philippians 4:4-9: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Even in difficult times, we can rejoice because we have a God who listens. Let's talk to Him about everything. We can also be strengthened by thinking about positive things. It is easy to get overwhelmed when we focus on all the negative and crazy in our lives. But, we can also get re-energized by seeing the good. Look at what God is doing. Count our blessings. See the good in others. Turn off the fear-based news and look for good stories — people helping people. Peace is promised. Peace can be ours.
We can make no promises about whether or not the events of 2021 will be different than 2020. But, what can be promised is that God is with us, He cares about us, He knows our situation, and He offers us rest. We can experience His presence and His peace. We can follow His wisdom of helping others, praying, and concentrating on our blessings.
Our reaction to the events in 2021 can be different. We don't have to become weary or worried. We can cling to the hope promised to Joshua when he faced an unpredictable situation — "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Jeremy Walden is the pastor of Mosaic Family Church, a nondenominational church in Auburn, and teaches Family Communication at Auburn University. Find Mosaic Family Church online at www.mosaicfamilychurch.org or follow the church on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with sermon series and events.