Weariness in Scripture

Weariness in Scripture

We’re doing a series on weariness, exploring where it comes from and how to navigate through it. If you missed the first video on sources of weariness, that’s a good place to start, and you can find it here.  Since we’re doing this from the context of Kingdom business -I thought it would be interesting to dig a bit deeper, and explore what Scripture says on the topic. Novel idea, right?

Of course, you engineer or software types will understand that once you start looking at variations on the word, and then start search all those variations in multiple translations – such an undertaking could quickly turn into a infinite recursive loop.  For our sake here, I found the word “weary” appears 29 times in the NIV, and another 22 in NLT (with about 12 unique). I also searched “weariness” in a few translations, only a few verses came up.

I’m not sure I found any earth-shattering a-has from the exercise, but I did find some clues that will play into our next two segments of in this series: how to navigate through your own weariness; and then how to lead your team through weariness (or prevent it in the first place.)  I’ve also done a video to summarize this study, which you can find here . But if you’re looking for all the meat, the full list of scriptures that factor into this study, then you’ve come to the right place ….

When scripture refers to a group of people or a specific person being weary, it seemed to me they can be more or less categorized into three basic buckets, as below.  (Again this isn’t necessarily exhaustive, but I’ve included some references so you can look them up and ponder them yourself.)

  • Physical weariness
    • Deuteronomy 25:18  weary and worn out from journey
    • Joshua 7:3  weary in battle
    • Isaiah 40:31 “those who hope in the Lord … will run and not grow weary”
      • you can get weary if you don’t hope in the Lord
      • likewise, you would expect to eventually get weary if you run
    • 1 Samuel 14:28 men are “weary and faint” due to Saul’s foolish command that the army not eat …
    • 2 Samuel 16:14 “king and all who were with him grew weary along the way”  (weary from the journey)
  • Emotional weariness
    • 2 Samuel 17:2 David is weary from betrayal
    • Psalm 119:28  sorrow – “my soul is weary with sorrow”
    • Proverbs 25:25  “like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land”
      • infers weariness from too much bad news
    • Galatians 6:8 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time …”
      • you can get weary when you’re not seeing results from doing good
    • Revelation 2:3 “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”
      • hardships can cause weariness – but instead you perservered.
    • Job 7:3 “I, too, have been assigned months of futility, long and weary nights of misery.”
      • futility causes weariness
    • Psalm 57:6 “My enemies have set a trap for me. I am weary from distress.”
      • distress causes weariness
  • Spiritual weariness
    • Deuteronomy 28:64 “anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart” for turning away from the Lord’s decrees
    • Isaiah 46:1 false gods are “a burden for the weary”
    • Isaiah 50:4  Lord has given prophet “a well-instructed tongue, to know the work that sustains the weary.”
      • The word of the Lord sustains the weary … it follows that the LACK of the word causes or furthers weariness
    • Jeremiah 9:5 “they weary themselves with sinning” (in context of lying and deceiving)
    • Jeremiah 20:9  he’s weary if He DOESN’T speak the word of the Lord and tries to hold it in
    • Lamentations 5:5   ancestors sinned, and now we face poverty, fatherlessness, oppression, slavery, and more
    • Lamentations 5:17 “our hearts are sick and weary, and our eyes grow dim with tears”
    • Psalm 63:1  “My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”
      • the land is weary from being parched (lack of water)
      • it’s also a metaphor, where harsh physical conditions are leading to the author’s spiritual thirst/hunger
    • Isaiah 57:10  Israel pursues false idols, and “You grew weary in your search, but you never gave up.  Desire gave you renewed strength,  and you did not grow weary.”
      • you’re not going to find what you need in false idols (makes you weary searching) … but you keep looking anyways.
    • 2 Cor 5:2 “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies … ”
      • we’re not made for this world, living in fallen world makes you weary

I also found it interesting, that even God gets weary! Well, kind of …

  • Isaiah 1:14  “Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me;  I am weary of bearing them.
    • From bearing burdens – even God gets weary!
    • (“weary” in the Hebrew is Strongs 3811 – to be weary or have your patience tried)
  • Zechariah 11:8 “the flock detested me, and I grew weary of them”
    • God grew weary from the people’s rejection
  • Isaiah 43:24 the Lord is wearied … by (a great quantity of) offenses.
    • In this case, the Hebrew word translated “weary” is Strongs 3021
  • Although  Isaiah 40:28 says “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary”
    • Again “weary” is the same Hebrew word, Strongs 3021, as in Isaiah 43:24

So I’m no theologian – but I think I get what God’s saying. It’s the same thing any functional, loving parent has experienced (i.e. as opposed to a dysfunctional or abusive one). You love your kids … but sometimes they just WEAR. YOU. OUT.  At the same time, for the rest of forever, you love them, and you’re so grateful to be their parent, and you wouldn’t trade them for anything in the whole world,  and you’ll NEVER get get tired of being their parent. Well, until next week and they’re KILLING ME and I NEED A BREAK!!  I think we know what God is saying in the contrast of these two verses.

Or maybe a cleaner way of saying it is that even in His long-suffering, impossibly-patient mercy and incomprehensibly-extravagant grace, He sometimes grows weary of His rebellious, unrepentant, stubborn, self-serving kids. But He never grows weary of being God.

Another interesting discovery in this word study, is that it turns up a few examples where someone should  have been weary but wasn’t:

  • In 1 Kings 19, Elijah wants to lay down and die, but after an angel delivers him two simple meals (of bread and water) – he goes hiking for 40 days and nights on the strength of those meals.
  • In John 4:32, in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, the disciples urge Jesus to eat, presuming He must be weary from the long journey … but Jesus says “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”

Both these examples give us a significant clue:  while our weariness may be coming from the natural world, our solution may well be found in the supernatural. Some other examples along that line of reasoning that we can ponder include:

  • Job 3:17 “there the weary are at rest”
    • Presumably, in heaven – no weariness there!
  • Jeremiah 31:25  God brings refreshment: “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
  • Matthew 11:28  Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”
  • Hebrew 12:3 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”
  • Psalm 68:9 – the land is weary – but God sends abundant rain to refresh it

And finally, it’s clear in scripture that there is a moral imperative to help the weary:

  • Job 22: 7 there’s an accusation “you gave no water to the weary”
    • inferring, you should have
  • Job 31:16  Job offers his defense “If I have … let the eyes of the widow grow weary”
    • if it’s true … then I deserve it.

Well, I’d say that’s probably enough on the weariness. Let’s move onto some solutions! Next up in the content series: Overcoming Your Own Weariness.

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