Inward Renewal - Cure for Fatigue

One piece of Scripture is perfectly suited for celebrating the upcoming God-ordained event of my birth. If I received a card with this verse on it, every single year until the Lord called me home, I would be perfectly content. Its meaning would never become dull or repetitious. The source of its joy, rather than earthly blessings, draws my eyes to the real purpose of why I exist, why I was born.

Those in today’s modern “church” aren’t often encouraged by its message, but instead shift uncomfortably at its lack of pretense and abundant in-your-face reality which no amount of anti-depressants, talk-therapy, wealth of material goods, high self-esteem, over-achieving children or plastic surgery can deter.

My Reformed brethren, who have a deep relationship in Christ, will often giggle, at first glance, some thinking this is yet another Sharon Quip. After brief thought, many turn charismatic offering up an “Amen!”.

It clearly acknowledges what the temporal world spends billions of dollars a year to delay: our bodies are wasting away. We are not today what we were a year ago, and will be even less so in another year. For those who banked on their youth, beauty, physical strength and perhaps agility, this message can be distressing. With a little shifting of words, a warm-fuzzy feel-good 70’s message becomes more Scripturally accurate for them: “Today is the best day of the rest of your life”.

For those who do not grasp the incredible meaning of being renewed day by day in the spirit, depression and hopelessness, or a false sense of security in a positive outlook, banking on the next big raise, promotion or job change may be constant companions, all equally destructive to souls.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day! (2 Corinthians 4:16)

The following article was written to encourage Christians with a God-honoring message as it relates to their careers, but it’s equally good for any Christian fatigued by daily duties and responsibilities, who need encouragement in being renewed in the one and only Hope that has eternal meaning.

Of personal encouragement to me was this article’s position that fatigue (and yes, suffering) is not only acceptable in the eyes of Christ, but is a blessing. –Sharon

Inward Renewal in a Fatigue World
by Tan Sin Guan

Source: http://www.mccc.org

Early morning at seven, we rush through the traffic in order to get to the office on time. At the office, we focus our attention on the tasks at hand. Before we could finish the existing task, our boss may comment that we are good workers and gives us another project to handle. We become so accustomed to busyness that we hardly have time to really touch base with our colleagues. In addition, sometimes we have to endure and live with one or two irresponsible colleagues who may be constantly looking for an opportunity to harm our career. It is almost a daily affair that we feel pressurized by bosses, colleagues, clients, suppliers and worst of all by our own internal expectations. If we are lucky, we have the joy of rushing through the traffic again in order to get home. If we are unlucky, we might have to stay until ten at night at our office in order to clear our workload. If we are Christians, we are most likely to have ministry in the evening. Then a new kind of pressure takes place—while we strive to serve the Lord whole-heartedly, our spouse may demand for more time from us. “You are too busy! You have no time for the family! The children need you.” Sounds familiar? It almost sounds like there is no meaning in life.

Most marketplace professionals would probably agree (with me) that pressure, physical fatigue, and emotional frustration have somehow become part of our lives. In most cases, external pressure and expectations from employers, colleagues, clients and internal expectation from within ourselves push us to our limits. This reality, if not worse, even applies to high level executives. Hara Estroff Marano presented a survey finding that carried a surprising conclusion: “For a shocking number of CEOs, getting to the top brings only emotional bleakness. Success has surprising psychological traps for almost all senior executives. At some point in their careers, fully 25% of top level executives go through suicidal depression.” The author pointed out in her article entitled, “The Depression Suite” (published by Star Publication) that several renowned psychologists provided various views with regards to the cause of the depression. But almost all of them agreed on one possible common root—the inability of these successful executives to cope with the pressure of external expectation from their work and family, and internal expectation in their personal lives.

The unfortunate truth about this reality is that as much as we try our best to keep a balance between our personal and working lives, or to apply whatever personal management principles, whether it is for God or for ourselves, we are still going to be tired and sometimes helpless. The key question then is what are we going to do about it? Or does the Bible provide an answer or a way for us to live above this seemingly dead-end situation?

Jesus was tired too—in spite of the fact that He had the full anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. He had such a good sleep in the boat that He didn’t realize that the boat was sinking. The same applies to Paul too. The gifted and effective apostle lamented, “I was hard pressed on every side…perplexed…persecuted…struck down and always carry the death of Jesus… (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).”

The Scripture does not deny the reality of physical and emotional fatigue; however, it does provide another reality within the same scenario that is worthy of our consideration. While Paul confessed that he was hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, he continued victoriously that he was not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, and not destroyed! In fact, Paul revealed the secret of the inner strength within him. He said, “… Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day! (2 Corinthians 4:16).”

Therefore the victorious cry, “I was hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed! This is remarkable, because it gives us another set of reality—that is, even in the midst of busyness and tiredness, there can still be hope and joy in life! Even though Paul’s body was wasting away, yet inwardly he was being renewed day by day. No wonder even under the chains of imprisonment, Paul could still exhort, “Rejoice in the Lord and again I say, rejoice!

The Bible does provide an answer for the predicament of marketplace professionals. There is another set of reality:

Fatigue is not equal to joylessness, suffering is not equal to meaninglessness and frustration is not equal to hopelessness.

Inward renewal is the result of a personal encounter with God. Usually not dramatic, it often occurs at a time when we are at our limits. Paul testified, “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body (2 Corinthians 4:11).”

Paul realized that it was when he had given all he could give, Jesus is revealed to the fullest. It was at that point when he was totally witless, strengthless and helpless that God revealed Himself to the fullest! No wonder Paul exclaimed, “God’s strength is perfected in our weaknesses!” He was hard-pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted and struck down but it was at that bleakest moment that he experienced his grace and strength. He encountered God. How could one be not renewed inwardly, even when the outer part is wasting away, if one encounters God? In Paul’s case, he experienced it day by day.

Have you met someone who though outwardly is wasting away, yet inwardly is being renewed? There are senior saints who, as their physical strength is reduced, nevertheless became more steadfast and radiant! Their memories may be fading, their arthritis may be nearly unbearable, their ventures beyond their small rooms or apartments may be severely limited, but somehow they live as if there is something so special within them – joyful, edifying and encouraging. As their outer being weakens, their inner man runs from strength to strength. Conversely there are people who, as far as we can tell, are not suffering from any serious organic decay but they become more and more bitter, demanding, irritating, spiteful and introverted. Their inner being is decaying together with their outer being. Are you decaying inwardly? Talk to God about it.

As I penned this article, I received a prayer in the form of a poem from the CEO of an established company who had experienced one of the toughest moments of his life. This is an excerpt of what he said,

“Alleluia, praise be unto Our God. I praise Him, not only because good things have come my way, but that I could praise Him even when I was struggling and facing moments of uncertainty. Recent weeks have been a very special period in my life, a chapter where I could experience the deeper meaning of God’s faithfulness.
When I called unto Him, He was there for me. But, more so, I could sense of His presence even before I called out to Him. I found great peace and comfort within me. I could go through times of “worry-ness”, moments of anxiousness, and even fearful procedures. Yet, there was great calmness upon me, again and again.” No doubt he encountered God.

Are you decaying inwardly? Talk to God about it. However, until we are desperate that we have nothing, talking to God is merely incidental, or at best, supplemental in our lives, but it will never be fundamental. Unless we are desperately helpless, we won’t see the glory of God (quoted from Rev. Edmund Chan). While we might not be able to fully avoid the reality of emotional and physical fatigue, it can however be the beginning of our encounter with God.

Written by: Tan Sin Guan is director of Malaysia Campus Crusade for Christ’s Impact! ministry. He is also an associate pastor of Klang Chinese Methodist Church.


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