What’s the use? Is there anything more deflating than the sense that what you are doing doesn’t matter? Have you ever felt that way? Or perhaps more accurately, how often do you feel that way? You’re trying to do what is right. You are trying to help. You are making things right. You are making things better – for a friend, a family member, for the whole family, for someone in need, for lots of people in need, for the church, for a stranger. You’re doing what feels like what should be done. You’re making sure, the best you can, things can keep going. You may even be doing what will only get done if you are the one doing it. And you keep doing it. You are doing what is good. And quite possibly, even probably, you get weary.
You are the person the Apostle Paul has in mind when he writes, “…do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thess. 3:13). It isn’t unusual for Paul to say something like this (Gal. 6:10). He must have known a little something about doing what is good, and a little something about why sometimes we might get weary doing it. I think it might help to look at why we can get weary, and then to consider some rejuvenating truths about our well-doing.
Don’t Lose Heart
First, it might help to look more closely at Paul’s words in the text. He isn’t saying, “don’t get tired,” rather he saying, “don’t lose heart; don’t lose courage.” Paul is not just telling his audience to pound down an energy drink and get back to work. He is not telling us never to rest; he is urging us never to give up. He is speaking to our inner person, to our hearts, because that is the place where we get weary.
Why We Get Weary
We can run out of steam when doing good for several reasons. First, because we may not feel that we’re doing really matters – that it is making a difference. Is anyone or anything changing? Have we made any real progress? The dance of taking two steps forward and three back will wear you out in short order.
Second, we may get weary because we do not feel appreciated. It’s tough to feel like we’re doing what is right, and doing it with all our might, and have it go unnoticed or under-recognized. Right about then we often feel a bit resentful. Or we might wonder if no one is noticing because maybe it doesn’t matter after all. Maybe someone else could or should do this, and maybe do it better, if at all.
Third, we may get weary because we fear running out: out of energy, of resources, of ideas, of money, of time… that there just won’t be enough of what it takes to get it done. Fear of lack can squeeze the courage right out of our hearts.
Weariness, here, is a matter of the heart. Time-outs and time-off won’t help this, but truth will.
How to Overcome Weariness
Let me say that there is nothing wrong – at all – with a good nap. Without sleep the drama-factor increases by a bazillion. Everything feels worse without rest. Rest happens to God’s most natural means of assuaging weariness. So, when you’re tempted to give up, sleep on it and take a fresh look when you wake up.
Second, it is absolutely essential that we do everything unto and for the Lord. Whatever we do, we do it all our might as unto the Lord, and for His glory. There is joy in that. There is strength in that. There is even an assurance that regardless of what I can measure (or cannot measure) what I am doing for (and with) the Lord matters. It matters because He makes it matter. It matters because He is the master architect, builder and artist. He always makes things work out for good. He always uses the most apparently insignificant things to make the biggest difference. He wastes nothing: no person, no resource, no opportunity. There is no way anything we do for the Lord can “not matter.” Hear Paul tell the Corinthian church, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). The message bible says it this way, “being confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” Don’t get weary – because everything you do for and with Him matters.
Third, let us rest in the deep assurance of Heaven’s praise. It is normal and healthy to enjoy affirmation from others. Positive feedback, appreciation and sincere compliments are morale boosters and courage-builders. God made us this way. It’s one of the reasons that it is urgent that we constantly encourage others. However, people’s praise is often passing. Further, praise from men is hardly the gold-standard of well-doing. Depending on the situation, you could just as easily be despised for doing good. We must do good because we love people, not because we love their praise. All the honor, praise, and reward only matters when heaven says so. We must set our hope on heaven’s praise (2 Cor. 5:9-10), and do good.
So, dear friend, don’t get weary. Don’t lose heart. What you’re doing matters. The Lord sees, records and rewards. Keep up the good work.