Developing My Struggle Muscles


Yesterday was one of those days. I was so pooped that I struggled to remain upright at the dining room table. It took supreme effort to hold my head up out of the soup bowl. Unfortunately, days like that are common for me. I have a connective tissue disease that causes chronic pain and -- what's even worse -- extreme fatigue.

If you've never experienced fatigue, you can't understand how debilitating it is. It's not the exhilarating tired you feel as you relax in a hot tub after aerobic exercising. Neither is it the contented tired you feel as you sip lemonade on the porch swing after gardening all day. It's more of a crash and burn, hit-the-wall, feel like you're dead or dying exhaustion. I imagine it's the way the coyote feels who not only chased the roadrunner all day but was also pulled through a wringer, hurled off a cliff, blown up with dynamite, run over by a truck, squeezed through a knothole, and then had an Acme safe dropped on his head -- all before lunch.

Exhaustion is that burn out toddlers experience when they've skipped their afternoon nap. I can relate when I see a two year old in a shopping mall throw himself to the floor sobbing. There are days I feel like doing that, only I lack the energy required to cry.

The worst thing about chronic fatigue is that even after a full night's sleep, I still don't feel refreshed. Most mornings I awake just as tired as I was when I went to bed the night before, and I go downhill from there. Fatigue is like a thirst that is never quenched or a hunger that's not satisfied. I rarely get "enough" rest.

Though I've had to cope with weakness and fatigue for years, it still frustrates me. I get angry when the most strenuous activity I can accomplish is breathing in place. And I hate having to cancel outings at the last minute because I need a crane to lift my body off the couch. It's infuriating that I can be perky and ambitious one day while the next day I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open, and I'm worn out just from dialing long distance. All this got me so upset recently that I decided to do something about it.

So I started complaining. That not only didn't help the situation, but focusing on the negative made me feel even more miserable.

Then I found this passage in the Bible about weariness. Isaiah 40:29 says that God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. It explains that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, run without growing weary, and soar on wings like eagles. Hmmm. I don't feel strong or powerful. I certainly don't soar, and I can't remember when I ran last. Some days it takes all the energy I can muster just to move from lying to a sitting position. So what gives? Where's all this power that the Bible promises?

Here's a hint: God's not promising literal physical strength; but I'll bet you knew that already. In His perfect will, He knows what we really need and that's INNER strength.

And guess what. The best way to develop strength within is to deal with problems without problems like physical ailments and fatigue. They may wear down the body, but they can build up the spiritual muscles which I call "struggle muscles." When God gives strength to the weary, it may be in the form of greater faith. We may not run faster, jump higher, or leap tall buildings in a single bound; but we can likely feel our hope and our relationship with Him grow stronger.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul wrote about being physically persecuted, hard pressed, perplexed, and struck down, yet he was not crushed, destroyed, or in despair. In the same way, even though my body isn't satisfied and renewed by physical rest, my soul is satisfied by God and He revives my weary spirit with spiritual strength.

Farther on in 2 Corinthians, in chapter 11, Paul lists some of his hardships which included being beaten with rods, shipwrecked, stoned, imprisoned, flogged repeatedly, and deprived of food, water, and sleep. He'd been naked, cold and afflicted with a "thorn" in his flesh. Even so, he could say he delighted in his weakness, hardships, and difficulties. He explained that God's grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in weakness. Paul wrote, "when I am weak, then I am strong."

So now I've (tried to) replace my whining "Why me" attitude with a more submissive "Whatever you want for me, Lord." With that new perspective, I still hope for the best; but I also prepare for the worst. And then I accept whatever God sends.

Though I am weak and tired, I can be strong in His power.


- Marsha Jordan -


[ by Marsha Jordan Copyright © 2004, (jordans@newnorth.net) -- submitted by: Marsha Jordan ]

       

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