Maybe a few times a lifetime there comes a special friend. They’re the ones who bring out your best and forbear your worst and faithfully share the rest. Jen entered mine at a Valentine’s dance in drafty old town hall almost twenty years ago. This post is by my friend Jen.
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We hobbled into church Sunday morning; husband in a neck brace, toddler in the stroller with a cast on her foot, and me on crutches.
“How beat up we must look; how wearied I feel!” was my thought as I crutch-stepped into worship.
We almost stayed home. It would have been easier. But I kept hearing the still small voice, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
It has been a challenging few months.
Last December, my husband had disc replacement surgery on his neck. The recovery has taken much longer than the expected six weeks, and in the midst of it, he was let go from his job. We have been blessed to see the body of Christ functioning in a wonderful way to care for our family.
Just last week, I made a foolish decision to jump on our new trampoline. My knee reminded me in a painful way that I am not as young, thin or in shape as I think I am. Now I am on crutches for at least 2 weeks. Then, Saturday, my sweet year-and-a-half old daughter, tipped a dining chair over while she was standing on it, breaking a bone in her foot. Three weeks in a (pink!) cast for her.
That is how we ended up so beaten up as we entered church Sunday morning.
Jesus, Wearied As He Was
After worshipping in song, a visiting missionary got up to teach from God’s Word. He opened to John 4, the familiar teaching of Jesus meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. I listened to his French accent read until he came to verse 6,
“…Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey,…” This caught my attention as never before; Jesus was wearied. He was wearied, so He understands my weariness.
“This is how you should always come to Me.”
It wasn’t an audible voice, but I do think it was from God.
Why? Why should we come to him broken, bruised, wearied?
This was the question running through my head Sunday afternoon. Why? Because His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in weakness. Then we can boast. Boast in our weakness so the power of Christ may rest upon us. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
As I considered that more, I realized that there are so many weary Christians who show up every Sunday morning. And they worship. Hands raised, voices lifted in worship of the One who understands their weariness.
The single mom.
The parents of prodigal children.
The woman wading through the pain of infertility.
The unemployed man.
The woman who recently buried her mother.
The woman newly widowed.
The woman who just miscarried.
The parents of a child who has to have another surgery.
The parents of an autistic child.
I see them every Sunday morning. Why? Because they too know that His grace is sufficient.
Our church does a church-wide memory verse, a new one every two weeks. Right now we are memorizing Lamentations 3:32-33. I like John Piper’s explanation of it in “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God,”
…Jeremiah gives us a glimpse into the mysterious complexity of the mind of God in Lamentations 3:32-33, “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” Literally: “He does not from his heart afflict or grieve the children of men.” He ordains that suffering come — “though he cause grief” —but his delight is not in the suffering, but in the great purpose of creation: the display of the glory of the grace of God in the suffering of Christ for the salvation of sinners.
There is suffering in this world. Some suffering is temporary, like crutches for a few weeks. Some is more painful and lifelong. And, I realize I have not even talked about terrible injustices and real suffering that is happening all over the world.
All of it is in God’s control. He ordains it. For His glory. And, in the midst of it, we will continue to hobble into worship. Beaten, bruised, wearied. As well as joyful, glorifying God, and grateful for His grace.
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[B]ut, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.