“O God, You are my God;earnestly I seek You;My soul thirsts for You,my body longs for You,in a dry and weary landwhere there is no water.”~ Psalm 63:1 ~
In our 6 years overseas, we experienced a number of challenges:
- my husband inexplicably collapsed (all but unconscious) for 5 days,
- we lived in 10 residences (that’s counting only the ones we lived in for 2 months or longer),
- I had 3 babies, and miscarried one,
- learned to tackle domestic challenges like learning how to *really* cook, how to clean house, and how to offer hospitality
- felt loneliness and homesickness like never before,
- began homeschooling,
- took countless hours-long flights with increasing numbers of children,
- started learning Mandarin, but had to leave once I really started making progress,
- studied until I became nearly-but-not-quite fluent in Turkish,
- and probably did many other stress-inducing things too that just aren’t coming to mind at present.
During that whole time, I always had at least one baby in diapers, and was pregnant or nursing almost the entire 6 years. There were often times when I was juggling multiple items on that list while walking through deserts of the soul… times when I was weary, dry, parched, and felt like I had little-to-nothing to GIVE.
And yet there’s this:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction,so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ~
Believing that 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is true– that the things that comforted ME in those times may be comforting to OTHERS– I want to share these four things that brought comfort when I was parched and dry:
#1- REMEMBER: God is near.
Acts 17:27-28 says: “they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.“
For me, there was great comfort once I mentally acknowledged His constant presence in my life. It did not CHANGE that He was present (He always was), but it CHANGED my awareness of Him being near. God is near to you; acknowledge and invite Him into your busy, tired days.
#2- REMEMBER: God sees the big picture.
Consider the Israelites. When Abraham was given a promise by God about his descendants, He told Abraham:
“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” (Genesis 15:13-14)
His plans are good, and we can trust Him, even if we are suffering.
#3- Remind yourself of the big picture.
If your weariness is routine difficulty/exhaustion (i.e., pregnancy, difficult season at work, having a toddler, etc.), take the “birds’ eye view.” You probably don’t know *everything* about the big picture that God sees, but look in Scripture for the parts that you CAN name. Look for the things HE says are true about your situation and force yourself to repeat after Him. Consider the eternal impact of what you are doing… what you are building into your children, what you are doing by doing your work as unto the Lord, or the value of the human lives you are pouring yourself out for.
- what is God teaching you?
- How might He make you more like Jesus through this situation?
- How will He be glorified in this circumstance?
- What comfort is He offering to you that may later benefit others?
Even when there is much you can’t see the reason for, take comfort in the big-picture truths that you CAN see.
#4- Do what is needful/make your life as sane as possible.
On this point, I think this is something that some people do naturally, so you may be thinking, “yeah, duh”, but other people might see this as self-seeking & wrong for a Christian.
Let me urge you– if you see self-care as somehow selfish– to rethink this. Several of God’s commands to us (i.e., “love your neighbor as yourself”) assume that we care for ourselves. The fundamental assumption is that at the very least, we care for ourselves. We are right to meet our own needs with the resources God has given us… that is part of a right use of our God-given resources.
Sometimes God has a purpose for us and intends for us to stay in the desert, but sometimes we can take a different “road” and hightail it out of the desert. A hot bath, or taking 20 minutes to read, might be just the thing you need to relax. Spending time listening to an audio Bible could be a great thing to “re-tank” while you do routine tasks.
Consider what plans or routines might help you be more sane:
- A meal plan?
- A chore chart for your kids to help shoulder the load?
- A plan to proactively tackle the laundry mountain?
- Perhaps you don’t have a good sleep routine for your kiddos and could really benefit from a few weeks of careful training in this area so that you and your husband could have regular times together in the evenings?
What things can you build into your life that will help you, over the long haul, manage things well & stay sane? Do those things. In stressful times, we may just need to do the next thing and keep our feet moving. Sometimes making these changes will propel you out of the desert, and other times, it will simply make the desert more survivable. Either one of these is a good thing.
These are some of the things God has taught me in the “down” times of life. I hope this will help others who are in need of some relief from the dry and weary valleys of life.
In the comments, please share: WHAT HAS BEEN BENEFICIAL FOR YOU IN THE TIMES WHEN YOU’VE WALKED THROUGH CHALLENGING TIMES?
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