Fatigue seems to sap out any reserve you might have to go on.
I remember visiting him in the Intensive Care Unit in our local hospital. After a huge overdose of pills he had woken up to discover he was still alive. His attempt at suicide had not succeeded.
His story was not unfamiliar. He had battled his addiction for years. Day after day. Then it got the better of him, and when his whole world crashed around him he decided to crash out of it.
Beneath what our culture calls psychological disorder is a soul crying for what only community can provide. Larry Crabb
This was years ago, but just the other day he shared with me his excitement at the news of becoming a grandfather.
Wonderful I thought, it was worth all the struggle of rebuild for the joy set before him of holding a new born baby in his arms.
Fatigue hits me too. Times when I want to just give up and stop.
Recently though I have come to the awareness that there is a bigger story going on. That my daily grind of rebuild is not just about me. It’s probably more to do with expressing the very nature of God who never gives up on me.
It’s also about passing on a legacy to my children and their children (yet to be).
For those on the rebuilding project of the Jerusalem city wall they had hit the rubble wall of fatigue. As well as the amount of rubble to move, their were threats and gossiping of failure swirling around them like pesky mosquitoes.
Here is what the story tells us
But soon word was going around in Judah,
The builders are pooped,
the rubbish piles up;
We’re in over our heads,
we can’t build this wall.
And all this time our enemies were saying, “They won’t know what hit them. Before they know it we’ll be at their throats, killing them right and left. That will put a stop to the work!”
The Jews who were their neighbors kept reporting, “They have us surrounded; they’re going to attack!” If we heard it once, we heard it ten times.
So I stationed armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows.
After looking things over I stood up and spoke to the nobles, officials, and everyone else:
“Don’t be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” Nehemiah 4: 10-14
I’m glad this is included in the story of the rebuild. It tells me that the builders were people just like us. They weren’t Hollywood superheroes, they got tired, worn down and ‘pooped’.
When I am fatigued my mind so easily drifts to the seemingly endless rubble. The whirl of noise around me of actual and perceived threats. The problems, stresses, and difficulties. All of these can become just too much.
What I need is courage and a refocusing.
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have this to say about the word encouragement
The word encouragement has its root in the Latin word cor, which literally means “heart”. So does the word courage.
To have courage means to have heart.
To encourage – to provide with or give courage – literally means to give others heart.
Richard I, king of England from 1189 to 1199, was glorified for his courage.
How was he called by the troubadours? Richard the Lion-Hearted.
“Encouraging the Heart – A leader’s guide to rewarding and recognizing others” by Kouzes Posner
Courage is fear that has said its prayers Dan Allender
Nehemiah gave some cou (heart) back into the people. He inspired them. He was the one that looked beyond the present difficulties, who held up the compelling vision, and who called them to prayer and action.
He directed them to cling to God even tighter.
When our cou (heart) is failing and faltering we need others to give us that heart. To point us towards God.
I don’t think there is a greater gift you can give to some who is fatigued of soul than the gift of your presence. They don’t need messages of ‘try harder’, or ‘here is what I did when I was in this situation’, or really anything that would dismiss the struggle they are in.
They just need to know you are there and will be there tomorrow.
Nehemiahs call was to put their ‘minds on the master great and awesome’ and fight for their families and the grandchildren yet to be.
The result was quite amazing.
Our enemies learned that we knew all about their plan and that God had frustrated it. And we went back to the wall and went to work. Nehemiah 4:15
In the place of community I find strength to go on. If I rely on my own resources, wit and cunning then I am bound to run out of energy.
Here is the question though for us living in our self reliant, independent, ‘ I did it my way’ society.
What are you going to do when
you hit the rubble wall?
That moment that causes your soul to groan ‘I’m pooped, the rubbish piles up; I’m in over my head, I can’t build this wall’.
What I hope you will be able to do is to go to someone like a Nehemiah to breathe life into your ‘cou’ heart.
Quotes to consider
- The greatest need in modern civilisation is the development of communities, true communities where the heart of God is home, where the humble and wise learn to shepherd those on the path behind them, where trusting strugglers lock arms with others as together they journey on. Larry Crabb
- In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer
Real encouragement occurs when words are spoken from a heart of love to another’s recognized fear. Larry Crabb
Questions to ask
- How is with your soul? Pooped, overwhelmed, fatigued?
- What are qualities of a friend who knows how to speak life into a fatigued heart?
- What daily habits, spiritual exercises/ disciplines keep your heart full of hope?
Image by Henri Meilhac