A Brief Thought on Stress and Weariness
The countdown has begun in earnest – 19 – 18 – 17 -16 – 15… The countdown of days until the election is finally here and the campaigning and commercials and debates are finally over. The American Psychological Association is reporting that this time around 52% of adults are “somewhat” or “very” stressed out by the battle for the White House. It is fairly equal across party lines – 55% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans – across genders – 52% of women and 51% of men – and interestingly, across the age brackets in which we tend to divide people. Those most likely to say they are stressed are the “Matures” (age 71 and over) and the “Millennials” (ages 19 to 37). They have even given this feeling a name – it is PEAD – Pre-Election Anxiety Disorder. The folks at arstechnica.com talked about this recently on their website and you can read their recommendations for beating back the stress as election comes upon us.
Although I’m not in either one of the two age groups who are most stressed, I will admit that I too am weary of this election cycle. One way or the other I will be glad when it is over. We tend to think of weariness as a bad thing. When we feel weary we may think that the best solution is a vacation (that’s always relaxing!) or to take some time off, to get more sleep, or to ___________(you fill in the blank). But all weariness is not bad – in fact, some weariness is a reminder that we who are people of faith have our eyes in the right place. Tim Challies recently wrote a piece titled Gospel Weariness – I thought it a strange title at first, thinking that he meant that it was going to be a lesson on perseverance, of how not to grow weary in our desire to live our lives according to the Gospel. Instead it was about facing the trials and pain of life – about those times when we hate the world because all it does is break our hearts – it fools us and fails us – it over-promises and under-delivers. And yet in spite of the world, in the face of its broken promises, there is the promise of the Gospel, as Paul reminds us — “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). There is a weariness that elevates our view from looking down at our feet to the horizon ahead – that stirs within us a longing to be done with this life and to enter into the life to come – a weariness that rests on the promises of the Gospel – that finds its hope in the God of the Gospel. It is not a morbid weariness that looks forward to just getting things over with – but a weariness that lives in the sure knowledge that there will be a time when all the trials will be over and we will enjoy the fullness of God’s presence.
I was reminded in my reading this week that our desire for Heaven, as Christians, is not a desire for a place – it is a desire for a person. John speaks of this in his vision in the Book of Revelation:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3–4)
In our weariness may we find comfort and hope and strength – remember the words of the Master: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)