For the past couple of posts, we've been discussing being weary in the journey. First, we looked at how we all experience discouraging days (or weeks, months, years) in life and how Jesus knows and cares how we feel. Second, we looked at the children of Israel and saw how poorly they responded to their fatigue and weariness. Today, I want to share with you the right way to handle the overwhelm and disappointments of life. Let's begin with John 4:1-42.
I know that's a long passage, but I wanted you to see the entire story. It helps to understand precisely how far Jesus went to step outside of his discomfort and reach out to others. Verse six tells us plainly that Jesus was wearied with his journey. He was tired and, no doubt, discouraged. He had come to earth to minister to others, but it seems He made as many enemies as He did friends. Many clung to His teachings while others cast Him out, claiming Him to be blasphemous and an imposter. Day after day, He journeyed, fulfilling His mission to draw others to Him, and He was fatigued.
It's easy for us to overlook the fact that Jesus--though 100% God--was in a human body and therefore subject to all the same physical distress to which we are subject. He got hungry, thirsty, tired, weary and so much more. At this point in John 4, we see where He needed a rest. He had been busy about His Father's business, and the effort had taken its toll on His physical body. So, He stopped by the well in Samaria and rested while the disciples ran off to find some food.
At this point, the Samaritan woman enters the scene. I could teach several lessons about her, but that will have to wait until another time. For now, let me point out that she was coming to draw water in the middle of the day because she was a laughing stock among her people, particularly the other women. To put it nicely, she wasn't of the utmost moral standing. But that didn't hinder Jesus from reaching out to her and offering her what He had to give--Himself.
He could have ignored her. After all, Jews didn't talk to Samaritans. They didn't even like each other because of various disagreements between their peoples. No one would have thought it odd for Jesus to dismiss her and focus on what He really needed, which was rest. But Jesus knew the secret to dealing with weariness in the right way. You don't lash out at others; you reach out to others. And that's exactly what He did.
After a somewhat lengthy and personal dialogue, the woman comes to understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Upon her realization, she drops her bucket and runs off to town to spread the news. Interestingly enough, the disciples had just returned from town with some lunch, but there's no indication they spoke to anyone about Jesus. They were busy meeting their own needs and dealing with their weariness. In short, they were self-focused, much like the children of Israel were in our previous devotion.
Upon their return, they offered food to Jesus, but He calmly told them He had food of which they weren't aware. In response to their confusion, He declared, "My meat is to do my Father's will." In other words, "There's something much more important here than filling my stomach." Jesus understood His body was weary, but He looked beyond Himself to see an entire village who was spiritually weary and discouraged.
Ironically, the woman also looked beyond her own needs and risked the ridicule of the entire town by rushing off to tell her tale. She didn't have to. She could have kept the information to herself. After all, with the way everyone treated her, they didn't really deserve an opportunity to meet the Messiah personally, did they? Evidently, she never even considered such a thing. She told everyone she could find and convinced them to travel with her back to the well to meet the Messiah for themselves. Because of her faith and her decision to reach beyond her weariness, many in the city believed in Christ. What a tremendous impact she had on the town that day! I'd like to think people saw her in a different light after that.
Both Jesus and the woman displayed selflessness even in their moments of weariness. They chose to look beyond themselves and their own needs and to reach out to help others. And what each of them discovered was that their response was healing and restorative. While they may have each still been physically tired, there was a new light in their eyes and spring in their step. Their hearts were lightened when they chose to reach out instead of lash out.
What about you? How will you respond the next time weariness and discouragement strike? Will you complain, blame, exaggerate and express ingratitude as the children of Israel did, or will you reach out to others who may be weary as well? The first will leave you miserable while the second will completely shift your perspective and give you a new reason for making the most of every situation. Lash out or reach out? The choice is yours!