You don't need to be out of breath to need a break. Fatigue wears many faces. But for just a moment think with we me about soul fatigue.
Soul fatigue is that state when the heart is at unrest. Instead of enjoying "the peace that passes all understanding" it feels as if peace has simply passed. God seems distant. Prayers are shallow or non-existent. We are feeling a little out-of-sorts.
The list of contributors to this kind of weariness is endless. Most of us can travel upstream to find the headwaters of our haggardness. We know that we are tired and with a little work we can pinpoint why this spiritual lethargy has set in. The bigger question may be where do we go when soul fatigue arrives. The psalmist provides the answer:
Charles Spurgeon, always a wellspring of wisdom, writes:
Whenever a child of God even for a moment loses his peace of mind, he should be concerned to find it again, not by seeking it in the world or in his own experience, but in the Lord alone. When the believer prays and the Lord inclines his ear, the road to the old rest is before him, let him not be slow to follow it. For the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
Three things stand out here:
- Immediacy -- The psalmist, recognizing his state, exhorts himself, "Return, O my soul, to your rest." This is the parishioner doing the work of the preacher. He is preaching to himself: "Turn to the LORD. Run to the only One who can bring the peace you are missing." Spurgeon counsels us not to be slow about this. God has rest for us. Take your trouble and run to him even now.
- Focus -- The psalmist sets his soul (his heart) toward God. Heart trajectory is the difference between Rehoboam and Ezra. Rehoboam (Israel's king after Solomon) "did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the LORD" (2 Chronicles 12:14). Ezra, on the other hand, was commended because Ezra "set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). Where is the trajectory of your heart today? It is easy to fall prey to distractions. When soul fatigue sets in, look up!
- Thanksgiving -- Interestingly, Psalm 116 is "a hymn of personal thanksgiving for God's care." Scripture reminds us to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and for all things (Ephesians 5:20). Why? Because God is sovereign over all and is working every event in our lives for our good (Romans 8:28).
Personal thanksgiving should also find expression in public worship. Psalm 116 "is notable for its assumption that one's thanks for this very personal deliverance are properly consummated in public worship." There is power in the company of the people of God. Prioritize this gathering.
We may not live every day with a skip in our step, but we can live at rest in our soul. Listen to the psalmist. The Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
This Sunday at Spanish River:
Join us for “They Didn’t Faint, They Didn’t Fall,” a biblical look at injustice, the civil rights movement, and a few people God used to make our country a better place. Let’s give honor where honor is due this MLK Weekend.
- "Whenever a child of God ..." from Charles H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David.
- "a hymn of personal thanksgiving ..." and "The psalm is notable ..." from ESV Study Bible, note at Psalm 116.