Tuesday, February 1, 2022

           Some dictionaries define fatigue as an extreme form of tiredness that can come from exertion or illnesses.  You may have suffered from fatigue when battling an illness.  Some medications list fatigue as a side effect.  Fatigue can show up as physical, emotional, mental or even spiritual.  You may find it surprising to know that Paul battled fatigue and acknowledged the depth of his struggle.  He wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8, “...we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”  What an honest and even jaw-dropping statement!  And Paul used the word “we” so he battled this fatigue along with others.  A few things stand out in this verse that we need to consider.
            First, Paul was honest in his admission.  We can and should be likewise.  We ought to admit our fatigue and recognize it.  There is nothing gained by dodging it or denying it.  Frankly, we probably make matters worse and allow the sense of fatigue free reign to permeate other areas of life.  Let there be no shame in recognizing your fatigue and limitations.  Give others permission to do the same.  No one can live seamlessly every single day.   
            Second, Paul acknowledged that the pressure and fatigue he felt was beyond his ability to endure.  Today, we can easily find ourselves in very similar places.  We have this sense that the burden or weight we carry is beyond what we can endure.  We feel ourselves breaking down.  Life has become much more burdensome for many these days.  Perhaps you are one.  We face a lot of battles and challenges on many fronts.  Addictions, suicide, dropping out of the normal affairs of life are all signs that life has become “beyond our ability to endure.”  Likewise, they are warning signs that flash the need for help. 
            Third, Paul was honest enough to admit that he was fed up with life itself.  He put it this way, “we despaired of life itself.”  Ever felt that way?  Even the strongest of us can easily arrive at the place where we are just tired of the way life is going or tired of what life has become.  One way to deal with this struggle is to name it and acknowledge it.  We cannot paint over it or dismiss it.  If we are feeling it, most likely, the feeling is real.  We will never be able to address the problem unless we are honest and clear enough to say it.    
            If we read further in 2 Corinthians, we see something else that Paul wrote in 1:9.  He said, “Indeed, in our hearts, we felt the sentence of death.”  Paul even feared that the end was at hand.  He sensed the despair and pressure he suffered would overwhelm him even to the point of death.  Note, he did not wish to die and did not indicate that he wanted to die.  He just had this sense that the pressure and burdens of life might result in his death.  Paul is writing as raw and frank as possible.  He is giving us great insight into what he was facing and how it had taken a toll.
            So, the question is what do we do?  We have an answer from Paul near the end of 1:9. He wrote, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”  Paul turned his heart toward the Lord.  I can imagine the apostle on his face before God surrendering his battles, trials, pressures and strains to the Lord.  And we have to do likewise.  We have to offload our trials and battles to him.  We only have twenty-four hours in a day.  We can only do so much.  We are not perfect.  We are not inexhaustible.  So, God often allows battles and trials in that through them we turn our eyes toward Him and place ourselves in His strong hands.  Increase your Bible reading.  Seek out times of solitude.  Pray without ceasing.  Be comfortable enough to acknowledge your limits and humanity.  You are not Superman or Superwoman.  No one else is either.  Superman exists only in the comics and in the movies.  Paul gives us one final encouragement in 2 Corinthians 1:10. He wrote, “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.”  Paul knew that to be true in the first century.  And we can trust it is true in the twenty-first century.  Have a wonderful Tuesday!  

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