Words for the Weary
Have you heard the legend of the original marathon? The story usually emphasizes how a man named Pheidippides, a Greek message-runner, famously dashed about 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens. Upon his arrival, he announced the Greek victory over the Persian armies... and then collapsed and died. For some reason which remains quite a mystery to me, many people willingly participate in races of this distance all over the world. (Perhaps some of you reading this have completed one such “marathon” and could enlighten me!) What the simple retelling of this Greek legend often fails to mention, however, is that the journey of Pheidippides actually began with a desperate sprint (seeking reinforcements) from Athens to Sparta and back… a cumulative distance of well over 300 miles! Wow!
Though I’m not a long-distance runner, I can’t help but find this story eminently relatable. It was around this time last year that our entire world began to respond to a global pandemic. Here at Cross, we made numerous and significant adjustments to our worship life. In each of our personal lives we also learned what it was like to keep a distance from others, to miss out on attending special events, to avoid gathering in crowds… And just after those first few weeks, it already felt like we had run a marathon! Little did we know that the race was far from over back then. So much has happened over these months, not least of which was the powerful winter storm that left so many of us without electricity and clean drinking water. Marathon after marathon...
Maybe you feel this way too… weary... like we’ve been running hard for so long and it’s still not very clear how far ahead the finish line even is.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
While there certainly is much for which we can be thankful—and blessings much too numerous for us to count—there also seems to be a deep weariness we all feel together. It shows up in conversations that tilt with a less than charitable tone, during interactions that leave those involved feeling irked, through setbacks that subvert us more than they would under more “normal” circumstances. Much of this happens to us… but much of it is also done by us to others. As people of the Cross, we hear God’s invitation through His Word… especially during this Lenten season:
“Consider [Jesus] who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:3)
Ah, there it is—the answer to our weariness. Jesus, the One who ran the hardest race of all has won the victory over our sin and the death we deserve. This is the Good News by which we are refreshed in this dry and weary land! As we continue along the Lenten marathon toward the Cross and the empty tomb, we must not loose sight of Jesus. No matter how weary we become from the journey, our Savior stays with us each step of the way. He has completed far greater challenges before; we can surely trust Him now!
—Pastor Mark Harris
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus...” (Acts 3:19-20)