It’s that time of year again; when exasperated sighs escape our mouths, tears well in our eyes, and all of our limits are met. Many people at this time are starting to feel the toll of the year that has passed so quickly, and some are dreading the pressure of the festivities to come (Christmas is only 72 days away). People around me are in amongst all sorts of stressful and busy situations: facing exams, QCS, huge assignments, building houses, finding jobs, paying off debts, making life decisions, getting married – and while there are certainly positives to those tasks, they can still amount to a heavy burden.
This week has been especially so for my family. My son’s recent growth spurt in my belly has meant that exercise and simple tasks like eating, breathing and rolling over are becoming much harder, due to my growing size and plummeting energy levels. My husband hasn’t yet been given a permanent job for the end of this year, meaning we will have no income when Nathan is born. A member of my family has been diagnosed with cancer. We had a rush trip to the hospital yesterday because I was showing a sign of preterm labour and my doctor was, understandably, very concerned.
But what has burdened me most of all is that, as I now enter the third trimester and I become more fatigued and less able to do certain things, I’m believing that the less I do, the less I am. I need to do those chores. I need to see people. I need to exercise every day. I need to serve and help and organise as much as possible. I need to be doing things – because if I’m not, well… what am I?
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
This verse is pretty much me in a nutshell. My wise husband reminds me of it every time I try to justify pushing myself to the limit because I ‘have’ to. The first 8 weeks of my pregnancy were an absolute nightmare for an extroverted busy body (me). I had a constant extreme nausea that lingered at all times when I was awake, and was so sick that I lost 7 kg in 8 weeks. Some days were so bad I couldn’t get out of bed without being sick. There were days when all I could eat was certain flavoured potato chips. Or mandarins. Or pizza. It wasn’t a pleasant time: I felt weak, pathetic, and utterly useless – I had to stop studying and working, I wasn’t serving the church or the people around me, I wasn’t doing any chores or making any effort at all. I thought about how other people, and God, must think I was so awful and lazy to be so inactive.
Then came the relief when the sickness stopped – I could finally live and eat and be a normal person! I took it upon myself to use this new found strength for all I could: from housework, exercise, rearranging furniture, working again and taking up more work, organising various baby-things, taking on disciples, serving again. And it felt amazing!
Only problem was, I only felt amazing because of what I was doing – like a true Galatian. Already being saved, I was trying to complete, or make my salvation more perfect, by doing the stuff I thought I should do; instead of feeling amazing because I have an amazing God, and an amazing salvation.
When I realised what my attitude had become, I decided to pay more attention to my own sanctification, and to God: who He is, His love, His power, His greatness. I started to pray more, read more, and meditate more on Him: and gradually, this became a greater source of peace. I feel at peace about my families’ health problems, knowing that our God is sovereign and in control of all things. I feel at peace regarding our foggy financial future. I felt at peace yesterday as I faced the possibility of seeing my son 14 weeks too early. And this peace is incredible – it will exude from your heart out of a true knowledge of the true God, and an appreciation and gratitude of who He is. It will completely overwhelm you in the midst of the hardest times. It will transcend your understanding. And it will sustain you through any pain you face.
Friends, let us not be foolish Galatians. It’s so tempting to use activities as our source of peace, purpose and fulfillment. Let it not be so among God’s people.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it in the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 4:11