Grace for the Weary and Wounded

BY RJ GRUNEWALD

The sociologist John Robinson is known by his colleagues as "Father Time." He has dedicated his career to researching how people use their most valuable resource, time. In the book Overwhelmed he makes a crazy statement regarding his research about time:

"Women have time. They have at least 30 hours of leisure every week. It is not as much as men, but women have more leisure now than they did in the 1960s, even though more women are working outside the home."

That's 4+ hours of leisure daily for the average woman and 5+ for the average man.  What people is John Robinson talking to?

Because in my experience, people don't have that kind of time. We are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted by the overwhelming nature of our life.  

We are tired.

I would suggest that we are tired for primarily two reasons: we are busy or we are wounded.

Both of these contribute to the exhaustion that we find ourselves in.  For some of us busyness stems from a season a life - maybe the age and stage of kids and the demands it places on you as a parent.  Maybe it's the type of job and the expectations you have.  Maybe it's your role as a parent or workers and the pressure to succeed and what it says about you.  For others busyness creates an idol out of our tasks, believing somehow that our worth is tied to our ability to convince others that we are important. 

For some of us our wounds have made us tired. The pain and the suffering have worn us out and weighed us down. For some of us, these are self-inflicted wounds - choices that we've made that have destroyed us and our relationships. For others, they are wounds that have been given to us.  Words and actions that have happened by people that we trusted, abusing a relationship or a position of authority.

There's no question about it; we are a weary and wounded people.  And the thing that we could use most in the midst of the weariness and woundedness:

Rest.

The Sabbath, Rest, and the Weary

In Exodus 31, God says to Moses, "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord...It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed."

Isn't it fascinating that the all-powerful, God of the universe stops work and rests?

Does God even really need a break? 

But God pauses and enjoys his creation and the scriptures tell us that it was "refreshing."  It was life-giving.  Rest gives life.  Rest heals wounds. Rest re-creates us.

In Hebrews 4 it says, "There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their own work, just as God did from his."  In Jesus, we are given rest from the weariness and wounds of life. In Jesus, we are given a rest that restores our life.  In Jesus, we are given a rest that heals. 

When Jesus declared, "it is finished," it meant that the work was done. That means that no matter where you find yourself tired and burdened, God meets you there.  When you feel like you have nothing left to offer, Jesus gives you exactly what you need.  When you've pushed yourself to the limits trying to do a little bit more, Jesus steps in and says, "it is finished," and he reminds you that your worth comes from his work alone.

The author of Hebrews continues when he says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help is in our time of need." Because the work of Jesus is finished, we can approached the throne of grace knowing exactly what's been promised.

When your wounds and weariness attack your confidence, Jesus offers to you himself.  When your exhaustion makes you question your value as a spouse, a parent, or a workers, Jesus offers you an opportunity to rest and know that your value is found in him.  When your wounds tell you that you are nothing more than what has been done to you or said about you, Jesus offers you an opportunity to rest and know that you are his.

Jesus knows exactly what it's like to be weary and wounded. He understands what it's like to dread the events of the next day, to experience the rejection of his closest friends, and see everything crumble around him.   Yet is also our God who reminds us, "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you."  It is our God who is "the father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows." 

Wherever you are, whatever the pain, whatever the hurt, whatever the exhaustion, Jesus calls out to you in the midst of it all, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. " (Matthew 11:28).

RJ Grunewald is a Vicar at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan, serving in the student ministry and as a part of the preaching team.  He is also attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis through their distance education program. RJ is a theology nerd who loves books and sermons by dead guys. But as a writer and a preacher, he passionately believes that theology isn’t just meant for the academics and dead guys but it is for everyday life. He has a free, grace-filled book on addiction that you can download today, Addiction: Leaving the Vomit Behind. RJ has been married to his wife Jessica since 2007 and they have 2 kids, Elijah and Emaline.

Follow @RJgrune