|ESTERDAY WAS ONE of those days. I was so pooped that I struggled to sit upright at the dining room table. It took extreme effort to hold my head up out of the soup bowl. Days like that are common for me because I have a connective tissue disease that causes chronic fatigue as well as pain.|
If you've never experienced fatigue, you can't understand how debilitating it is. It's not the exhilarating tired you feel after aerobic exercising. It's not the contented tired you feel after gardening all day. It's more of a crash and burn, hit-the-wall, feel like you're dead or dying exhaustion. I think it must be the way the coyote feels after chasing the roadrunner all day and being pulled through a wringer, hurled off a cliff, blown up with dynamite, run over by a truck, squeezed through a knothole, and then having an Acme safe dropped on his head.
Exhaustion is the burn out toddlers experience after skipping their afternoon nap. I can relate when I see a two year old in a shopping mall throw himself to the floor sobbing. There are many days I feel like doing that, but I lack the energy required to cry.
The worst thing about chronic fatigue is that even after a full night's sleep, I still don't feel refreshed. Most mornings I wake up just as tired as I was when I went to bed. Fatigue is like a thirst that is never quenched or a hunger that's not satisfied. I rarely get "enough" rest.
Though I've dealt with weakness and fatigue for years, it still frustrates me. I get angry when the most strenuous activity I can accomplish is taking a shower. And I hate disappointing others by canceling outings because I need a hoist to lift myself off the couch. It's infuriating that I can be energetic and ambitious one day while the next day every cell in my body hurts and I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open.
Thinking about this recently got me so upset it triggered a hot flash. I decided to do something about it. So I started whining.
I've developed complaining to a fine art, but I've learned that it doesn't help the situation. In fact, focusing on the negative usually makes things seem even more miserable.
There's a passage in the Bible about weariness. Isaiah 40:29 says God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. It says those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, run without growing weary, and soar on wings like eagles. Hmmm. I don't feel strong or powerful. I certainly don't soar, and I can't even remember when I ran last. Some days it takes all the energy I can muster just to move from lying to a sitting position. So what gives? Where's all this power that the Bible promises?
Obviously, God's not promising literal physical strength. In His perfect will, He knows that what we really need is INNER strength.
And guess what. The best way to develop strength within is to face problems without. Problems like physical ailments and fatigue. Shucks! You didn't want to hear that, did you? Problems may wear down the body, but they can build up the spiritual "struggle muscles." When God gives strength to the weary, it may be in the form of perseverance, patience, determination, or greater faith. You may not run faster, jump higher, or leap Misery Mountain in a single bound; but you can likely feel your hope and your relationship with Him grow stronger.
God provides strength to battle discouragement, strength to remain obedient, strength to keep hope alive, and strength to endure.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth about how he was physically persecuted, hard pressed, perplexed, and struck down, yet he did not despair. (2 Corinthians 4)
In the same way, even though my body isn't satisfied or renewed by physical rest, my soul can be satisfied by God. He revives my weary spirit with spiritual strength.
In 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, Paul listed some of his hardships, which included being beaten with rods, shipwrecked, stoned, imprisoned, flogged, and deprived of food, water, and sleep. He'd been naked, cold, and afflicted with a "thorn" in his flesh. Even so, he could say he delighted in his weakness, hardships, and difficulties. What was that? Delighted?! That must be a typo. He couldn't have said he was delighted, could he? Yes, that's what he said alright. Then he went on to say, "God's grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in weakness. When I am weak, then I am strong."
Now when I consider the attitude Paul had, even in desperate situations, I (try to) replace my whining "Why me" attitude with a more submissive "Whatever you want for me, Lord." With a new perspective, I can hope for the best; but I also prepare for the worst. And then I accept whatever God sends.
Though I am weak and tired, I can be strong in His power.
Marsha Jordan is a disabled grandmother, author, and shower singer who began her writing career on the bathroom walls of St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School. Now her writing appears in restrooms throughout the country. Jordan has two boys, ages 30 and 55. She's been married to the 55 year old for 31 years.
She's been held captive for a quarter of a century In the north woods of Wisconsin where she shares an empty nest with her rocket scientist husband and their badly behaved toy poodle, King Louie who rules the household with an iron paw.
After her grandson was badly burned, Jordan created The HUGS and HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to cheering critically ill and injured children.
Jordan's inspirational and humorous essays are available in her new book, "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter." The book is illustrated with drawings by kids who are battling for life.
More columns by Marsha Jordan