It has been a wearisome year for many. Life in Singapore is generally hectic. Many of us already find it a challenge to balance work, ministry and family obligations. However the COVID-19 pandemic adds to this tension in a profound way. The new normal of working from home and using online platforms drains us not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. In addition, difficulties and discouragement in work and ministry can wear us out.
When feeling tired and weary, we often wish to take a break from everything. But Scripture urges us that there are three important dimensions in life that we should keep on keeping on:
Do not grow tired of doing good
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Gal 6:9
Even when days are hard and the work is difficult, when people don’t reciprocate and fruit tarries, let us not give up doing good in Jesus’ name. Doing good includes both gospel outreach and meeting needs. As the pandemic drags on, it is tempting to become inward looking and to revolve care only around oneself and one’s own family. May Galatians 6 motivate us to not give up reaching out to others and doing good in Jesus’ name.
Do not grow tired of growing towards Christlikeness
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted…” Hebrews 12:1-11
Scripture testifies that God saves us to conform us into the image of His Son. Hebrews 12 reminds us that God disciplines us lovingly to help us grow towards righteousness (Christlikeness). His discipline involves dealing with sins in our lives. It also involves training us in godliness through spiritual habits.
Let us not give up when we feel discouraged with our own lack of spiritual growth, but look to Christ’s endurance to inspire us towards Christlikeness.
Do not grow tired of meeting together
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Heb 10:24-25
Online platforms can lead to the privatisation of faith. In this new pandemic world, believers can now attend live-streaming worship services alone at home without the need to meet with other believers. However Hebrews 10 exhorts us that we should not neglect the habit of meeting together to encourage one another and stir one another to love and good works. Community is a key feature of our faith. Without God’s community, each of us is like an isolated piece of coal that will gradually burn itself out.
Even as we persevere in the above three dimensions of life, Scripture points us to the secret of finding rest and renewal:
Rest is found in a person
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28
Rest is not found in performance, but in the person Jesus Christ. I do not need to perform well in order to earn my rest. Going to Christ means choosing to rest in His work and not mine. My identity is secure in Christ. Because of what Christ has done, I am now a child of God. I can trust in the Father’s care and provision. I can also do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Renewal is found in a posture
“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Renewal is not found in a place, but in a posture of waiting upon God. Ultimately it is God who can grant inner renewal. Without touching base with God, no amount of breaks or vacations can make me feel recharged again. Waiting upon God means trusting in His goodness and promises when the going gets tough. It means holding on to what He says He will do in His Word.
Rest and renewal therefore need not be an ad-hoc experience when we take a break from our usual commitments. Instead it can be a daily experience for those who purpose to remain in Christ and run to His promises every day. This is also the secret on how to keep on keeping on.
By Ps Rick Toh