This is a shout out to everyone who feels like life just keeps kicking them in the teeth, day in and day out. To the people who are doing their best to keep their heads above water, their hearts in the right place, and their families from dying on the vine. This is for everyone who wakes up, downs a cup of coffee, and silently wonders, “What will go wrong today?”
I raise my third cup of coffee to you, my fellow weary wanderers, and offer you the words of the Apostle Paul:
“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.” – Galatians 6:9-10
I’ve always struggled with these verses. They’re annoying. Weariness is an inevitable side effect of doing good. If you push against evil, evil pushes back. That back and forth is exhausting. It’s laborious. It’s draining.
And it’s just part of what it means to believe in Jesus.
We don’t sell this part, of course – only certain people want to join a club that promises soul-sucking existential angst, after all – so when I, or you, or anyone else who trusts in Christ comes up against the weariness of human existence, we somehow feel as if we’re doing something wrong.
After all, we have countless voices telling us that if we just Jesus hard enough, life will come up roses. That’s how we get verses like Galatians 6:9-10 lobbed at us like verbal grenades of positivity.
And yet, what these two verses describe is a life of weariness. It takes toil and sweat and tired tears to bring about any kind of a harvest worth gathering. Farmers get exhausted. Parents get wrung out. Spouses become worn down. Weariness – fatigue – is just part of the process of producing anything that matters.
I’m weary. My life is the best it’s ever been, and yet I’m weary. Is it because I suck as a person? I don’t believe so. Is it because I don’t love Jesus enough? Not at all. It’s because the process of growth – of cultivating something greater – is simply challenging. Sure, I could cite the presidential election or countless other factors as reasons for being tired, but there are thousands of other people in this country who somehow manage to float through life without having to wrestle with every single day.
They must be doing something right, right?
I used to think so. But not anymore. I think when we skate through life, when we don’t wrestle with questions and doubts and pains, when we don’t spend time asking God countless “Why?” questions, it’s not because we’re somehow doing good better than anyone else.
It’s because we’re not doing good.
Good is something that must grow in us. That means pulling weeds, breaking up ground, watering soil, and all those other jazzy farm metaphors I grew up hearing. Goodness is cultivated when we struggle through times of being not-so-good. I didn’t roll out of bed one day and begin writing well; I’ve had to practice, fail, hone, sharpen, fail, rewrite, revise, fail and fail again to get to where I am. And even today, there is still a price to be paid if I want to continue to grow in that area – and that’s true for my work as a husband, father, Cub Scout leader, church member, etc.
So when Paul, who wrote Galatians, said “Don’t get tired” he didn’t mean for people to turn into psychotic Jesus-Energizer Bunnies. He meant don’t give up on growing in Christ. Don’t give up on the people around you. Don’t give up on what it means to be human.
Because if we stick with it, we will see some reward. We’ll see marriages grow, children take flight, and communities come together. It won’t all be Pollyanna and apple pie, but day by day the world will become a better place because we will become better people. We just have to hang with it. Dig deeper. Accept our weariness as part of the ride.
When the pressures of life threaten to crush you, it’s not always because you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes, it’s just because you’re doing something right.
So shake your head, down another cup of coffee, and set your jaw. Keep doing what you need to in order to grow. It’ll make the weariness worth it.