Do you ever feel so overwhelmed by the weight of everything in your life that you stop making space for the things that might actually help you feel less overwhelmed?
It’s been a season of life marked by heartache, grief, broken relationships, sickness, job loss, addiction, anxiety and depression, fear, uncertainty and the list could go on and on and on. It’s been hard and continues to feel hard. In these times, it’s easy to start to feel like we’re all alone out here.
Over the past few months, in the midst of all that feels overwhelming, I started to feel alone and disconnected from God. And, from there, it was easy to fall into a place I didn’t feel like I even had the strength to pause and engage in things like worship, prayer, journaling, reading scripture or rest- all the stuff that might actually create space for me to start feeling less overwhelmed and more connected to God. But I was too tired, too disappointed, and too distracted to even feel like I could do any of it.
Even though it felt like it took extra effort and I wasn’t totally feeling like it, one morning I picked my Bible up off my nightstand and started reading some verses. As I was flipping through the pages, I paused in 1 Peter. When I got to chapter 4, verses 12 and 13 stood out to me.
“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 The Message)
Those verses stopped me in my tracks because they put words to how I had been feeling.
I felt like God had dropped the ball, that He dipped out early on my story, and that He had simply forgotten about me.
I realized that I had slowly stopped doing all the things that could actually nourish my heart and push my soul in the direction of hope because I felt like God wasn’t on the job when it came to my story. I had begun to internalize the idea that things like prayer or worship wouldn’t help anyways if God wasn’t on the job.
It’s easy to feel like we have to deal with our burdens and carry them all by ourselves. It’s easy to feel like the disappointment is too great to even think about hoping again. From there, it’s easy to stop praying, stop worshiping, stop hoping, stop reading, stop pursuing community. I was starting to do that, wrapping myself up in all the pain and weight of the burdens and trying to carry them alone. That’s often what we start to do when we feel like God isn’t on the job.
I started to recognize that I was beginning to believe that God wasn’t on the job and had begun to try and carry many of my own burdens. I have always found comfort in an invitation from Jesus in Matthew 11:28, so I went back to those words in a moment of feeling exhausted spiritually. In The Message translation it says:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
It felt like Jesus was asking me these questions directly. Are you tired? Yes, I am. Worn out? Absolutely. Burned out on religion? Yes, getting there. I felt like I checked all the boxes of someone who needed some help.
And then comes the breath of fresh air, when Jesus encourages us to come to Him to a place where you’ll recover your life, where you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. That was exactly what I needed; the reminder that Jesus shows up for us. I love that I can find Him even in all the chaos and however big or small my burden feels that day, that He will help shoulder the pain.
He longs for us to have rest and peace even in the middle of all that we carry. The invitation found in Matthew 11 and the verses I stumbled upon in 1 Peter were much needed reminders that:
#1 God is not off the job, no matter what my circumstances are or how I am feeling might tell me.
#2 He is actually waiting for me to show up so He CAN heal my tired and weary soul.
My hope for us is that we would press into the things that maybe we’ve stopped doing in the midst of feeling lost, forgotten, overwhelmed or stressed. That might look like showing up to church again, remembering to start the day in prayer or being intentional about reading the Bible, or simply turning on some worship music on the way to work. I’m glad I started making space again for my heart to be touched by the healing power of Jesus and I’d love the same for you. From there, it’s easier to believe and hope that God is on the job in our lives.