I’ll admit I’ve had some days in the past year and a half when I have said to someone, “I feel like I’ll never be rested again.” I have been bone-tired, weary. Some days it’s more than just sleep deprivation. It’s a type of heaviness that comes from holding too tightly to the things I want to see happen. In short, my desires are weighing me down.
Desires can be complicated. Sometimes, as human beings, we want many opposite things to be true at the same time. We want our kids to stay little, and we want them to grow up a little. We want to be wise with experience, and we want to remain young. We want to eat the whole cake, and we we want to weigh what we weighed in high school.
I hope God can sort out the desires of my heart, because half the time I can’t even figure out what to hope for in this season. But I do know enough to know this: hope is warranted. Hope is essential and real and it’s different from wishing or dreaming, because real hope built on the person of Jesus.
This week, our usual Texas high school football experience was weirdly moved to a Saturday morning. I sat under overcast skies and cheered and hung out with the church kids who always sweetly swarm the baby and entertain her. The game felt long. I was sleepy. The responsibilities of Sunday morning were looming. But after the game we decided to go to a mall to shop for baby shoes. It was nice to be in a place like that, a bustling mall with bright lights and interesting things to see. We had fun together. As we got in the car, I could almost feel the weight of all of my desires bearing down on me. Chad drove us out of the parking garage, and suddenly we were stopped at a stop sign, watching a mother put her child in the car.
This mother was older. She had long, wavy black hair that had turned to streaks of grey and white. Her daughter may have been a young teenager. She lay on a special chair that looked almost like a bed, with room for medical equipment all around it. The mother was pushing her child up the ramp to their van with a strength that took my breath away. I knew how tired she must be. I could practically feel that mother’s tired across the way. Yet, here she was, using up all of her strength to care for her little girl, carrying the weight of all of her many desires.
I felt foolish in that moment because I felt a camaraderie with her, even though I knew without a doubt that I had no right to. I could have cried all day over the beauty of this precious mother, leaning over her fragile child, protecting her, loving her, hoping for her. It was stunning, like stumbling upon God’s glory when I least expected to encounter it. Like Moses, out among his sheep on an ordinary day, coming across a burning bush.
I wanted to run across that parking lot and tell her that I see her love. That I see the weight that she carries, the things she desires for her daughter and for herself. I wanted her to know that I see her hope and the strength of God pouring out of her, covering her child with the bravest and purest kind of love: the kind that asks for nothing in return.
In His tender way, God overwhelmed my heart. It was the first time in a long while that I had raised my head and looked beyond my own weariness. Who should be there but this beautiful mother and her extraordinary child, showing me what it looks like to lay your life down for someone else? The strength that it must take to get up in the daytime and in the nighttime, caring for a sick child, and having enough strength left over to load up all of the medical equipment so that your baby can see the bright lights of the mall, teeming with people who don’t know what it’s like to be sick.
My heart connected with her in some God-ordained way, and she didn’t even know it. In those brief seconds, it’s like the Holy Spirit infused me with a new strength, a new sense of how God molds us and makes us during our most difficult seasons. When we have so many conflicting desires that we don’t even know for sure what our heart wants, He is forming us, showing us that what we really need is His strength, His might, His authority, His goodness. I remembered that when we are the most weary, He is the most compassionate, and when we feel our strength being used up, when we feel like we’re impossibly stooped under the weight of our desires, He never gets tired.
As we drove away, an image of this dear mother and her child was seared into my very spirit. She, who is called to something so much more difficult that I am, radiated God’s strength. I know she is weary. I know she is bone-tired. But she keeps loving, keeps sacrificing, keeps giving up her life. And in our brief moment on this earth together, I remembered that if God can give her the strength to glorify Him through this, then surely in my own weariness, in my own worries which seem so trivial in comparison, there’s enough of His strength to go around.
Hope is real as long as Jesus is alive. He said that in Him we find rest–true rest for the weary. Our bodies may wear out, our brains may grow tired, but our hearts find rest in Him, in His strength. We can place all of our desires in this one basket: the goodness of God. Then we borrow His strength. And we keep going.