J. R. Miller, 1888
The close of every day, finds a great many people with tired and sore feet. There are some people whose duties require them to walk all day. There are the men who patrol the city's streets, the guardians of our homes; there are the postmen who bring the letters to our doors; there are the messengers who are always hurrying to and fro on their errands; there are the pilgrims who travel on foot along the hard, dusty highways; there are those who follow the plough or perform other parts of the farmer's work.
Then there are those whose duties require them to be on their feet most of the day, either standing or walking about. Salespeople in great busy stores are scarcely ever allowed to sit down; the same is true of those employed in many factories and mills. Indeed, the larger portion of all working-people, in all branches of industry, stand the greater part of the day. Thousands of women in their domestic work, rarely ever sit down during the long days to rest. Up stairs and down again, from kitchen to nursery, out to the market and to the store, in and out from early morning until late at night—these busy women are ever plodding in their housewifely duties.
"Man's work's from sun to sun;
Woman's work is never done!"
No wonder, then, that there are many sore and tired feet, at the ending of each day. How welcome night is, to the armies of weary people who then drop their tools or their yardsticks, or their other implements of toil, and hurry homeward! How good it is to sit down and rest, when the day's tasks are done! Certainly there ought to be a chapter somewhere, specially for people with tired feet!
But what message of comfort is there for such? For one thing, there is the thought of duty done. It is always a comfort, when one is tired, to reflect that one has grown tired in doing one's proper work. A squandered day, a day spent in idleness—may not leave such tired feet in the evening—but neither does it give the sweet pleasure that a busy day gives—even with its blistered or aching feet!
There is a great deal of useless standing or walking around—that gets none of this comfort. There are young men who stand on the street-corners all day, and ofttimes far into the night, who must have weary feet when at last they turn homeward; yet they have in their hearts no such sweet compensating satisfaction, as have those who have toiled all the long hours in some honest and honorable calling. Idleness brings only shame and self-contempt. Then there are certain kinds of occupation, which give to weariness no sweetening comfort. A day spent in sinful work, may make tired feet—but has no soothing for them in the evening's rest.
But all duty well done, has its restful peace of heart—when the tasks are finished and laid down. Conscience whispers, "You were faithful today. You did all that was given to you to do; you did not shirk nor skimp!" And conscience is the whisper of God.
But does God take notice of one's daily common work—ploughing, delivering letters, selling goods, cleaning house? Certainly he does. We serve him just as truly in our daily task-work, as in our praying and Bible-reading. The woman who keeps the great church clean, sweeping the dust from the aisles and from the pews, is serving her Lord as well, if her heart be right—as the gorgeously-robed minister who performs his sacred part in the holy worship.
The thought that we have done our duty for another day and have pleased God—ought to be like soothing balm to our sore and tired feet at the end of the day. Our Master's commendation takes the sting out of any suffering endured in doing work for him. When we know that Christ in heaven has noticed our toil and has approved it, accepting it as holy service to himself—we are ready to toil another day.
Another comfort for tired feet is in the coming of night, when one can rest. The day's tasks are finished, the rounds are all made, the store is closed, the horses are put away, the children are in bed, the housework is done—and the tired people can sit down. The tight shoes are taken off, loose slippers are substituted, and the evening's quiet begins. Who can tell the blessings that the night brings to earth's weary toilers? Suppose there were no night, no rest—that the heavy sandals could never be laid off, that one could never sit down, that there could be no pause in the toil; how terrible would life be!
Night is a holy time, because it brings rest. The rest is all the sweeter, too—because the feet are tired and sore. Those who never have been weary do not realize the blessings which come with the night.
Wonderful is the work of repair in life that goes on while we sleep. Men bring the great ships to dock after they have ploughed the waves or battled with the storms and are battered and strained and damaged—and there they are repaired and made ready to go again to sea. At night our jaded and exhausted bodies are dry-docked after the day's conflict and toils, and while we sleep the mysterious process of restoration and reinvigoration goes on; and when morning comes we are ready to begin a new day of toil and care! We lie down tired, feeling sometimes that we can never do another day's work; but the morning comes again—we rise renewed in body and spirit, full of enthusiasm and strong and brave for the hardest duties!
What a blessing is sleep! It charms away the weariness from the aching limbs; it brushes the clouds from the sky; it refills life's drained fountains. One rendering of the old psalm-verse is, "So he gives to his beloved in sleep." Surely, God does give us many rich blessings in our sleep. God himself comes with noiseless tread into our chambers—and touches us with his blessings—while our eyes are closed in slumber; he shuts our ears to earth's noises—and holds us apart from its strifes and turmoils—while he builds up again in us all that the day had torn down; he makes us forget our griefs and cares, and sends sweet dreams to restore the brightness and the gladness to our tired spirits.
There is something very wonderful in the mystery of sleep and in the way God comes to us in the darkness and the silence to bless us.
Another comfort for tired feet, is in the thought that Jesus understands the weariness. We know that his feet were tired at the end of many a day. Once we are expressly told that, being wearied with his long journey, he sat down on a well-curb to rest. He had come far through the dust and the noontide heat, and his feet were sore. All his days were busy days, for he was ever going about on errands of love. Many a day he had scarcely time to eat. Though never weary of, he was ofttimes weary in–his Father's business.
When our feet are tired after the day's tasks and journeys, it ought to be a very precious comfort, to remember that our blessed Master had like experience, and therefore is able to sympathize with us. It is one of the chief sadnesses of many lives—that people do not understand them, do not sympathize with them. They move about us, our neighbors and companions—even our closest friends—and laugh and jest and are happy and light-hearted; while we, close beside them, are suffering! They are not aware of our pain; and if they were, they could not give us real sympathy, because they have never had any experience of their own that would interpret to them our experience. Only those who have suffered in some way—can truly sympathize with those who suffer. One who is physically strong and has never felt the pain of weariness, cannot understand the weakness of another whom the least exertion tires. The man of athletic frame who can walk all day without fatigue, has small sympathy with the man of feeble health who is exhausted in a mile.
When we think of the glory of Christ, it would seem to us at first that he cannot care for our little ills and sufferings; but when we remember that he lived on earth and knows our common life by personal experience, and that he is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," we know that he understands us and sympathizes with us in every pain.
When we think of him sitting weary on the well-curb after his long, hard journey, we are sure that even in heaven he knows what tired feet mean to us after our day of toil. The comfort even of human sympathy, without any real relief, puts new strength and courage into the heart of one who suffers; the assurance of the sympathy of Christ ought to lift the weary one above all weakness, above all faintness, into victorious joy!
We should remember, too, that Christ's sacred feet were wounded—that our feet may be soothed in their pain and weariness, and at last may stand on the golden streets of heaven.
There is a legend of Christ which tells of his walking by the sea, beautiful in form, wearing brown sandals upon his feet. A poet puts it thus:
He walked beside the sea; he took his sandals off
To bathe his weary feet in the pure cool wave—
For he had walked across the desert sands
All day long—and as he bathed his feet,
He murmured to himself, "Three years! Three years!
And then, poor feet, the cruel nails will come
And make you bleed—but that blood will lave
All weary feet on all their thorny ways."
There is still another comfort for tired feet—is the hope of the rest that is waiting. This incessant toil is not to go on forever. We are going to a land where the longest journeys will produce no weariness, where tired feet may rest from all that tires. The hope of heaven, shining in glory such a little way before, ought to give us courage and strength to endure whatever of pain, conflict and suffering—may come to us in these short days!
The burden of my days is hard to bear,
But God knows best;
And I have prayed—but vain has been my prayer—
For rest, sweet rest.
'Twill soon be o'er;
Far down the west
Life's sun is setting, and I see the shore
Where I shall rest!