Sick. And. Tired.
Have you ever felt the weight of each of those words? Sometimes we say it blurred together- “sickandtired”- as if it is just a common detail like a brown eyed girl. Other times, each word and its weariness weighs on us and we feel immobilized.
I have felt that immobilization numerous times, especially when I experienced caregiver burnout. The thought of one more step, one more answered phone call, one more request for help would set me right over the edge. The weight of those words could cause me to cry a river wherever I found myself. I was a weary soul.
Last week I felt the same overwhelming weariness as I was preparing for a weekly responsibility. I felt so sick and tired of the same old, same old. “How come I get stuck doing this?”, I grumbled to myself. I dragged myself to my meeting.
However once I got there I saw the eager and innocent faces of the people who were counting on me and I was stirred by compassion. “How can I grumble when these folks have so much need?”
It is not that I was being such a selfless individual. (I am far from that.) It was that God stirred compassion in my soul.
I was reminded of the time when Jesus “withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Jesus was trying to get away for a time but the crowd had followed him. The day became long and as this was a desolate place there were no places to “grab dinner”. Jesus miraculously supplied the food for the five thousand plus crowd, all with the blessing of five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 14: 13-21)
While there are other interpretations and devotionals about the feeding of the five thousand, what I like about this story is the hope that it provides and the relate-ability of Jesus. Jesus, in his humanity (Son of God/Son of Man) was weary. The story right before this one tells of the beheading of John the Baptist. Surely Jesus must’ve been sad and distressed about that- John was his cousin and precursor to Jesus’ ministry. I am sure that the human side of Jesus needed to get away.
“Can’t I go anywhere? Even when I pick a desolate place, they follow me.” Jesus doesn’t complain and say that, but I certainly would have. I wonder as He looked upon the needs of the crowds if He had a conversation with His father, “provide me with the strength I need for this task.”
In this story, God does provide. He provides strength and energy for the weary human-side of Jesus and He provides sustenance to the mass of humanity gathered.
It is so hard to have balance: balance between caring for ourselves and serving others. But it is so important to master that balance. For if we don’t we will suffer burnout- physically and mentally. Also others will experience burnout through the backlash of our bitterness.
Conversely, if we care for ourselves, we can care for others. The miracle of the bread and fish provided care for the crowd but it also provided resources for Jesus to meet those needs of the needy.
Are you bone weary? Sick. And. Tired? Do you find yourself day in, day out caring for a loved one or stuck in a place of service that you do not see any relief? Are you trying to manage it all by yourself?
Hang in there. Find someone to share your struggles- whether a listening ear or a tending hand. If you have the means, think about hiring someone to help for a short period of time. Take a break from volunteering. Say no to solicitations. You can always say that you are taking a sabbatical and ask that they reach out to you in six months.
Take time to meditate on the sayings of Jesus. What I love about the Matthew passage is the image of the yoke. I heard during a sermon once (thanks Sis) about the making of a yoke. It was made of wood and was tailored made for the specific oxen who was to wear it. The yoke would be planed, sanded and fitted exactly for that animal.
God knows each one of us intimately. He knows when we are weary and when we need rest.
1 Peter 5: 7: “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
Galatians 6: 2: “Bear one another’s burdens…”
Matthew 11: 29, 30: “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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”