from “Mountains of Spices” by Hannah Hurnard
“How was your week?”
“It was very good. Long. I’m quite tired.”
There is always a hidden story behind polite conversation. And Instagram. I’m guilty of that this week. How was my Friday? Let me show you!
#teacherlife #ihavethebeststudents #ajoyfulclassroomisasafeclassroom
And it’s true. I love my student kiddos. And they love their teacher. And I’m so thankful for them.
But the truth is, this year is hard in ways that years in the past haven’t been. The truth is, I’m exhausted and discouraged.
But the truth is, God is gracious, as he always has been.
So, how was the other side of my Friday?
Thursday I came home from school around 6. After cooking dinner, I had no energy left to translate more documents, finish Friday’s PowerPoints, grade the growing mound of student work, or do anything else for that matter. So I went to sleep. At 7:30. Even I knew that was a mistake, but I couldn’t help it. I simply couldn’t work any more.
So I was awake from 11:30 p.m.-2 a.m. I tried to go back to sleep, but the bad dreams kept interrupting me. The emotional stress of our grade level meetings manifested in the gripping fear that at 1 am one of my teacher friends was overdosing. One of the little first graders from hall duty was being harmed. Many other false, oppressive fears of the early morning hours met with real-life difficulties and their anxieties. And I simply couldn’t sleep any more.
So, I did the only thing I could: practice the presence of God in the face of my exhaustion, stress, and fears.
Last Saturday, I heard this song (Psalm 91 Eagles’ Wings) by Shane and Shane for the first time. It was a gift of God that began to quiet my spirit early Friday morning.
So I read the words of that song in the other songs that sound melodious, unfailing truth:
Psalm 91 —
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”…
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night…
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 37 —
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him…
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
Isaiah 40 —
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
It’s a miracle from the Holy Spirit that calms fears and worries in my heart — even at 2 a.m. — and let’s me sleep again. Not to dreams of despair, but to dreams of hope and waking to laughter. What a grace.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again. — Annie J. Flint
The fountain wasn’t running that day. It didn’t even have water in it. Still people kept coming to the fountain. Some came alone; some came with a friend; some came as a family. They studied something written on the side of the fountain, as if soaking the words into their very bones.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
I watched them for a bit from my brother’s 3rd floor hospital room. I wondered how many of them were reading this as their first Bible verse and how many were reading precious words that were already imprinted on their hearts and minds. The people coming to the fountain were weary in body and spirit and, maybe, burdened in their soul, needing salvation — as we all do — not just from the soul-weariness of walking through the valley of Shadow, but salvation from their own soul-sickness of sin.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus’ invitation recorded in Matthew is said in the context of him telling us his ability to reveal the Father and the way to Him, meaning salvation from God’s judgement and forgiveness of sin.
He called his hearers to himself. He is calling the people at the fountain to himself. He is calling me to himself. He calls us to a relationship abiding in his love and forgiveness, where we can find rest for our souls. He doesn’t call us in the hope that we will do enough, but in hope of himself, who is God, who lived perfectly, died in our place, and rose to life again, securing forgiveness for all who repent and believe — works we could never do.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God, my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5
If Jesus can give us eternal rest for our souls, then he can give us the rest we need for day-to-day…
Are you weary of life? Christ will give you a new life and teach you to rejoice in Him always! Are you disappointed? Has the world given you a slap in the face where you looked for a kiss? Come to my Lord! He will give new hopes that shall never be disappointed, for he that believes in Him shall never be ashamed, world without end! Are you vexed with everybody and most all with yourself? Jesus can teach you to love and put you at your ease again. Does someone fret and tease you from day to day? Come to my Master and the vexations of the world shall gall you no longer. You shall reckon these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to you! — Charles H. Spurgeon, Rest for the Laboring, Oct. 22, 1876
Christ takes our burdens of sin, unbelief, vexation, unforgiveness, and disappointed hopes to give us His burden of faith, forgiveness, love, and lasting hope. Whatever temptations or difficulties come, His burden is light.
The LORD replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:!4
Rest for our hearts, our minds, our cares and worries, our doubts and fears, for our spirits and bodies, so that the same self-admonition awakens our hearts at hope of His provision in the morning and reflection of His provision in the evening:
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:7
So I rest in this: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). No longer is a good day one in which I wake up well-rested. A good day is one in which I can look back at the end of it and see God’s provision in my lack, his sufficient grace in my moments of weakness, his forgiveness to cover my failures, and more of his joy, laughter, kindness, patience, and love coming out of my mouth than I would have dared to dream when I dragged myself out of bed that morning. Tired, but happy, in Jesus is a good place to be. – Desiring God, The Sovereign Hand of God in Sleeplessness