I went for my weekly weigh-in at Curves this morning and I’ll be honest. It was discouraging. The tears in my eyes weren’t tears of rejoicing over the pounds lost but of frustration over the ones gained.
I wasn’t shocked. I expected it. I was fully aware that I hadn’t followed the plan set out for me. I had done okay the first couple days of the week. Even the first travel day wasn’t too bad.
Then, Friday, during what was essentially a work day that started at 7 and went until almost midnight, I started to get tired. Saturday’s work started at 7 and I was really tired. By the time I got into my own van at 11 that night for the last two hour drive home, I was almost numb with exhaustion.
So what did I do? Well, I ignored the chocolate on the tables in the Ambassador suite all day Friday. But Saturday, I grabbed one as I walked out. Then the next time through I grabbed another one. And. . . maybe a couple more throughout the afternoon. And when I stopped at the gas station to fill up for those last couple hours into the wee hours of Sunday morning, I went in and grabbed some more chocolate to get me home without falling asleep.
Recovery from the exhaustion took a couple days (am I even fully recovered yet?) and I pretty much gave up even trying to stick to any kind of meal plan. I just ate without thinking. And paid for it this morning.
Isn’t that the way it works so much of the time?
When we are tired, we let our guards down. Simply functioning becomes more difficult; functioning with wisdom seems nearly impossible. Foolishness creeps in. Sin often follows. We don’t put in the effort to fight against temptation. We just do what presents itself as easy.
Maybe our tone becomes more impatient, then it becomes harsh. Maybe our brain is so tired we just turn on the TV or get on the Internet, mindlessly looking at things we have no business seeing. Maybe we let responsibilities go unfulfilled, let the desk or the inbox or the laundry pile up because we just don’t have the energy to deal with it. Maybe we eat without thinking.
And before we know it, there are consequences before us. Hurt feelings and broken relationships because of our words. Impure thoughts that linger in our minds, remembering the images we saw on the screen. Deadlines missed, people disappointed. A scale that goes up instead of down.
When we are tired, we are weak. We don’t have the strength to fight each temptation that comes our way. It seems too hard to fight for righteousness. We just want to act on the easy default setting, choose whatever is in front of us in the moment, say whatever comes into our head first, eat whatever is convenient. Strive for holiness? Not now. I’m too tired to strive.
But when we’re tired, we have hope. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (12:9-10)
Christ’s power is made perfect in my weakness. Of course, I’m too weak to make the right decision all the time. That’s why He came and lived perfectly, even when He was tired. And now, through His power, I am strong even–especially–when I am weak.
Hope is also found in Philippians 4:13, which wasn’t just written for athletes, you know. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” We often hear this verse quoted in terms of some giant task we have to undertake. But in the context of that verse, Paul was not talking about winning a marathon or a tournament, but being content in his circumstances. Remaining faithful and joyful even in the most trying situations. Christ gives us the strength to do all things. Including be righteous when we’re tired.
Striving for holiness is hard when we are well-rested and full of energy. It’s a downright battle when we’re tired. But here’s one more lifeline from Hebrews 4:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (4:15-16)
Jesus got tired. He understands. His mercy to the tired soul is a balm. His grace refreshes. In our time of need, He doesn’t ignore us.
I’ll be honest. There aren’t very many hours when I’m not tired. My life is just that way in this season. Sometimes, in my tiredness, I walk in righteousness through the strength He supplies. Sometimes, in my tiredness, I give in to my flesh. He loves me either way.
So, this morning, I dried my tears. Because God is faithful to not let me be tempted beyond my ability and provides a way of escape for every temptation, because Jesus fulfilled what is lacking in my weakness, because the Spirit that dwells in me gives me power to walk in righteousness, I will keep striving. I will think before I speak, use caution in my entertainment choices, keep working on the jobs that need finished. I will be wise about my food choices.
Even when I’m tired.