Has anyone ever asked you, "Why are you so tired?"
Let me count the ways. First of all, it's not just the kind of tired at the end of a long day. It's not the kind of tired after a work-out that pushed your limits. It's not the kind of tired after a big event. It's something so much more. I don't think I need to write out a list of possible reasons why you feel sucker-punched and unable to peel yourself out of bed 42 seconds after you landed there but are already being called back out.
It's not just that you're physically tired, either. You're exhausted in every way: emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. You've cried so much and so hard that your face hurts. Your eyes can't squeeze out one more tear. If they do, one tear turns into Niagara Falls. And if you let yourself do it, you'll just know you'll drown. Your brain hurts. Your mind is swimming in acronyms and therapies and treatments and messages from well-meaning friends asking if you've seen that one article, unable to keep the days straight, appointment dates weighing down your mental calendar, forgetting promises made to other children, family, and your best friend for that much-needed coffee date. Your body just aches. Everywhere. You discover new bruises every day and have no recollection of their occurrence. Your heart throbs from pain and longing. Longing for the newness Revelation 21:5 promises. Longing for rest.
Longing for strength.
Isn't that our daily need? Could you use some strength to get you through today the next 15 minutes? How about those doctor appointments? Diagnosis evaluations? Therapies and treatments that test your very being? Meltdowns for a man-child who is taller and stronger than you? Fighting insurance companies? (Oh, I heard you on that one.) Facing the dreaded IEP meetings?
I know. Oh, how I know about the strength you need but just don't have. I've heard so many times from so many, "I just can't fight anymore."... "This is too much. I just... can't."... "It's exhausting."... "I'm exhausted."
What if I told you that you're right? You don't have the strength you need to face what you have to face. You actually aren't stronger just because it didn't kill you, whatever "it" was. What if I told you that God DOES actually give you more than you can handle? That he allows weight upon weight to be added to your bar, while you strain against lifting just the bar alone. That after getting knocked down, you don't have the strength to get up again?
This is actually quite good news, despite the seeming contradictory statements I've just made. You, dear parent, in and of yourself, do not have the strength it takes to live this life. To do what you do every day. (Encouraging, I know. You're welcome. Just keep reading.)
But Jesus Christ does. He alone is your strongest Strength.
We all look to the Proverbs 31 woman, holding her up as this ideal woman we may strive to be, but to which none of us can ever attain. She is the modern-day "Pinterest mom." (Dads, if you're reading, this applies to you too. It's not just for women.) Verse 17 says, "She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong." Did you know that the Hebrew word here for "arms" actually means strength too? Literally, it reads that she "makes her strength strong." This is a picture of the strength of God strengthening His child. This is more than an exhortation to Zumba. This is seeking out the power and strength of God our Father to give us what we need for life. Making our arms strong is finding our strength in the One who makes us strong.
You have strength through Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, then you have this strength. It's already there. It's not in your flesh. Your flesh is weak. Yet His power is perfected in our weakness. Every day, our hearts cry out the words of Isaiah 33:2, "LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress." Or Habbakuk 3:19, "The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights."
Are you tired? Are you weary? Are you weak? Has your strength failed you? Do you need stronger strength than what you've been using - and losing? Do you long to "tread on the heights"? Your flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of your heart, and your portion forever. (Psalm 73:75-76) He will renew your strength. Lean into Him when your aching bones long for strength. I often pray, "Lord, I cannot do this on my own. I need You to do this through me. Enable me to (____). Be my strength." Then I take a deep breath, get up, and walk on.
It sounds so wonderful and beautiful, and it is; but it's messy and hard. A lot of times, it looks more like the "Nailed it!" Pinterest fails than the Pinterest-perfect moms. It's not as easy as it seems. It's not easy when you're at your wit's end and you can't take any more shoes hitting the floor. It feels endless sometimes. But there is hope. And if you are His and He is yours, you have everything you need—you have the strongest strength because of His great love you for you.
Let me leave you with a prayer, that I encourage you to pray yourself, replacing personal pronouns (I, me, my, mine) for every "you." "your," "we" or "us":
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.