When We Are Weary
By Nate Bramsen
More than 100 years ago, Helen Lemmel began penning the lyrics of a now-familiar hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” with two questions: “O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?” Amid a world of chaos, confusion, calamity, and casualties, we identify with the exhaustion embedded in Lemmel’s questions.
We find great company among those in the Bible who navigated seasons of weariness and discouragement. Feeling overwhelmed, Moses cried out to God, “Kill me here and now—if I have found favor in your sight.” (Numbers 11:15) Elijah experienced God’s great power poured out at Mount Carmel, but when he did not see the results of repentance that he had sought, he declared, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4) Interestingly, God chose these two characters to meet with His Son on the Mount of Transfiguration, while Peter, James, and John looked on.
Consider a third man, of whom Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater.” (Matthew 11:11) Enter John the Baptist. Having been arrested by Herod Antipas, John awaited his future from within the prison of Machaerus. Whether experiencing disillusionment, doubt, or discouragement (or all three), he sent his disciples to Jesus with a question.
John the Baptist didn’t ask if his situation would change, what his imprisonment would lead to, or even for help. Rather, the weary prophet asked about the one truth that mattered: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3)
This is the right question.
Herein, we find the bedrock on which we can rest during life’s storms. Though we may discredit and consider ourselves discarded in moments of discouragement, God has a purpose in the darkness. We hope not in what will happen amid our circumstances but, rather, in who our God is. John’s question points to his hope. If Jesus truly is the Coming One, then John could deal with prison, loneliness, and even martyrdom.
Take careful notice of our Savior’s response.
Jesus does not answer with a simple “Yes, I am He!” or “No, I’m not the Coming One.” Rather, after whatever time lapsed, He responds to John’s disciples, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:4–6)
In John the Baptist’s moment of questioning, Jesus doesn’t give the prophet the answer he wants but, instead, points him back to God’s Word—the destination of truth. Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah, reminding John that He, Jesus, is doing exactly what was foretold of the Coming One.
Our Savior makes no disparaging comment, nor does He suggest that John erred in questioning Jesus’s identity. To dispel all doubt, the Son of God points His prophet back to God’s Word with the unasked question, “Will you trust My Word even when you don’t understand My ways?”
Dear reader, though you may be walking through an intense time of questions, confusion, and frustration, remember that the answer you want may not be the answer you need. God is glorified by our faith in who He is and what He has accomplished on our behalf, even when we don’t understand the why behind our reality.
The problem is not that we have moments of doubt but whether we will linger in our doubt or take our doubt to God’s Word. God may “fail” our flawed human expectations, but He will never fail His Word. The enemy may persist in seeking to discourage, distract, and deter us from our mission to glorify Christ, but rest assured, “He who calls you is faithful.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
With confidence, we concur with Helen Lemmel’s conclusion of the matter: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Nathan Bramsen serves in Special Areas.
Originally published in Missions magazine, November 2023. For more content, sign up for a free subscription (US) to Missions at CMML.us/magazine/subscribe.