The Cure of Weariness
J. R. Miller, 1899
Weariness may be wholesome. It is wholesome when it is the natural consequence of earnest, healthful activity. Such weariness finds its renewal in rest, and in God's blessing of sleep. Blessed is the weariness of youth or of health, which is built up into joyous vigor overnight. That is a beautiful rendering of an old Psalm verse which runs: "He gives his beloved sleep."
An old tale tells of the young artist who from sheer weariness fell asleep before the picture over which he had also grown discouraged. Then, while he slept, his master came softly into the studio and, with a few quick, skillful touches, corrected the errors in the work, and brought out of the beauty which the pupil had dreamed of, and had vainly sought to put upon his canvas.
The story is a true illustration of what God is constantly doing for his children when they grow weary in their work and fall asleep over it. Many a half wrought out picture does his hand finish overnight. He takes away the discouragement, and puts fresh hope and courage into the heart—while his children sleep. Weariness like this is full of blessing. We might frame a new beatitude, "Blessed are the weary—for they shall find God's rest."
But there is a weariness that is not wholesome. There are many people who faint under their burdens, and, finding no adequate recuperative uplift anywhere, sink down in the dark floods. Those who have much to do with the care of souls, those to whom the weary and disheartened, turn for help and sympathy—know how many yield to dispiriting influences, and how hard it is to lift up such hands that hang down. Even God's wonderful ministry of sleep fails to restore them. Laying down their tasks for a time, does not bring back the old enthusiasm. Their weariness seems incurable. It is not the natural weariness of health at the close of a busy day—it is a weariness of spirit. Ofttimes it is unwholesome—at least, if one had learned the full, rich secret of God's peace, one would not have fallen under its power.
Sometimes weariness is the result of sorrow. We are accustomed to think that sorrow—always does good, makes the sufferer better, and sweetens the spirit. But there are many who faint under chastisement. Instead of getting blessing and good from their trouble—they are hurt by it. When a great affliction comes, taking out of the life its light, its joy, its inspiration; there are some who seem unable ever to lift up their head again. "There is nothing left now to live for!" says one; and no pleading of love, no exhortation to duty, seems to recall our friend to the old interest in life.
There is far more of such faintness in the ways of trial and grief—than the world knows of. To many, life is never the same after a great sorrow. The bereft one does not desire to taste joy again.
Yet this is not the way God wants us to meet sorrow. There is no accident in life's bereavements, as God sees them; they are all provided for in his plan for our life. They have their place among the means of grace, through which we are to be fitted for duty. There is a way to find rest and renewal in such weariness, if only those who suffer thus, know how and where to find it.
God's comfort is a medicine which has power to heal the heart's deepest wounds. There is a profound meaning in the beatitude, "Blessed are those who mourn—for they shall be comforted." It may not mean that sorrow itself is a blessing; it may not be a good thing to have the heart torn and the life bereft and darkened. Indeed, it is not a good thing in itself. Yet there is a secret in it which will extract from pain its power to do harm, and will make it a blessing. The blessing is not in the sorrow—but in the comfort; and the beatitude means that God's comfort is so full of good—that it is well worth while to suffer any affliction, that one may obtain the comfort. Truly, this weariness, too, God can cure by the ministries of his love—as he cures bodily and mental weariness in sleep.
There is a weariness, also, of disappointment, in which many faint. It is very hard, for example, to be stricken down in broken health, not only in the midst of activities—but also when the heart is full of great hopes for the future. Invalidism is a heavy burden. One must sit in his room, or life on his bed, and see the throngs of busy men, among whom yesterday he himself was a leader, move on to their successes and their victories, leaving him meanwhile unable to take any part in the work or the struggle.
There are many men who, by reason of broken health or some sore misfortune, or through narrow limitations, are shut up in a dark prison, and compelled to lie there, from their dim windows seeing their former companions march by them with mirthful banners and cheerful music, and pass out of sight. It is not easy to keep one's spirit brave and strong in such and experience. The weariness is apt to become faintness, and the faintness to pass into the well near incurable sickness of despair.
What does the religion of Christ have to say to a man in such condition? It has a message, for, as the gospel views life, there is no human hopelessness. It tells us of another sphere in life besides that, in which success is measured by physical activities and material results—a sphere in which one may fail to the eyes of men, and yet to be a glorious success in the sight of heaven. Activities are not the only measure of living. It is not what we do in a given time, that tells what real progress we have been making—but what has been done in us. One may be accomplishing a great deal, as men look at life—and yet really be doing nothing that shall last. One may be straining every nerve in exertions which seem to produce splendid results—and yet be only beating the air.
A business man, who, after years of energetic work, was suddenly stricken down and compelled to lie for months on his bed, scarcely moving hand or foot, one day said to his pastor, "For years I have been running my soul thin by my incessant activities—but in these quiet months I have had time to think about my life, and now, for the first time in all my experience, I am growing!" He was learning lessons he never could have learned in the rushing restlessness of his earlier years.
We must not think that, because we can go on no longer in our chosen course, therefore life has nothing more for us. The breaking up and setting aside of a plan of human ambition, is ofttimes the making of the man. A young woman who had been an intense student of music for several years, studying at home and abroad, and devoting herself with great enthusiasm to her art, found it necessary to give up all her work and rest for a year.
She accepted the disappointment cheerfully, and turned quietly to other occupations. The result was that her lost year proved the best year of her life. It gave her time for quiet heart-culture, and for reading, and thought on lines neglected before. The influence on her character was enriching and sweetening. She was also led into new experiences which proved gateways into treasure houses of blessing and good she never could have found in her eager, unresting life. She learned more of the sweetness of friendship than she had ever dreamed of before; more too of the reality, the tenderness, the infinite satisfaction of the divine friendship. At the end of the year, her friends were conscious that she had grown in all lovely qualities. What had been regarded as a misfortune, proved to have been divine leading in most gracious ways.
It is always so. There is never any real need for growing discouraged. No matter what the condition may be—we may trust God with the outcome, while we accept our lot with cheerfulness, and do the duty that comes into our hand. There are many things we never can learn in the midst of our earthly ambitions, which must be learned, if ever, as song-birds learn new song's, in darkened rooms. A Christian's rule of life should be, never to yield to discouragement, never to faint in any trouble—but always to keep his face toward the light and his heart full of song.
One of the most wonderful words of Christ, is that in which he forewarns his followers that in this world they shall have tribulation; but bids them nevertheless be of good cheer, giving as a reason that he has overcome the world, and therefore in him they may have peace. One who believes on Christ is identified with him, and shares in all his blessedness, his victoriousness, his peace. There is that great Old Testament word, too, which assures us that if our mind is stayed on God—he will keep us in perfect peace. The comfort is that the keeping is God's, not ours—ours being only the staying of our mind upon God.
With such divine words as these on which to hope—why should we ever faint or grow weary, however broken our life, however desolate our home; however we may seem to have failed? No life can sink away—when it is held in the clasp of the everlasting arms. No sorrow can strip us bare—while we have Christ, and while heaven receives our loved ones. No work for God can ever fail—but every golden seed dropped in the furrow shall yield a harvest.
Then there is a final curing of earth's weariness for all who know Christ in this world. The promise of rest, while it has precious fulfillment in the present life—holds its complete fulfillment in reserve, until we reach the heavenly life. There no one ever shall know weariness. Here on earth, all growth is toward old age; in heaven is perpetual youth. There will be no sickness there, no sorrow, no trouble. Heaven will be a place of noble activity, every immortal power at work—but there work will not produce weariness. All life will be joy and peace and song, and none shall ever be tired!