Saturday, May 12, 2012

Serving Through Strain

I'm getting this from a sermon and a lecture I heard (thanks, DSmels and Mr. Peeler), so by no means are these my ideas, but they've really been on my heart since I heard them and this is definitely something I need to work on, and since I don't feel great today it seemed like an appropriate topic to share.

I have a legacy of always being tired. I don't know if I just whine about it more than most people do, or if it was the follow-up to an emotionally rough summer, or if there's something wrong, but especially this past year of school I've just felt like I was struggling to function almost daily because of how tired I am. Which is weird because I got much more sleep this school year than I ever did last school year. Old age? Anyway, my normal schedule tended to be that I'd get up at 6 and study for whatever test I had that day, go to classes from 8-3, and then sleep until...forever. And then eat or study and then go to bed at curfew or soon after and start the whole routine over again. I just am/was always tired. So naturally my first instinct isn't just to go around looking for ways I can help or errands I can run for people in the afternoon or evening, because I'm exhausted and "I need to sleep." (And obviously my level of tiredness is much more important.) So when I heard these thoughts they hit me pretty hard, and while my room didn't get any cleaner after I heard it, I think about this all the time.

In the gospel accounts of the last few days of Christ's life, you don't see much sleeping going on. Especially the day before his death, it's pretty clear that He didn't get a whole night's sleep to rest up for the trials of that day. His life is one long example of endurance, and it's definitely an example we can look up to. He doesn't ask us to serve in ways or love in ways that He hasn't, and if we're being living sacrifices we can certainly be grateful for his example of sacrifice through His life and His death. But think about that last day and night of Jesus' life. Read through the account starting in Luke 22 tonight and write down all the things Jesus experienced. He celebrated the Passover with His disciples, He instituted the Lord's Supper, He settled an argument between selfish disciples who STILL didn't understand the meaning of His kingdom, He went and prayed intensely to God about the trials He was about to go through, (even though His disciples couldn't stay awake) He dealt with two of His closest companions betraying Him publicly, He was mocked, led before a false council, slapped, spit upon, whipped, the list goes on and on. After you make that list of all the things He experienced, make a list of all the things He said. I think you'll find the list to be pretty short. He taught His disciples, prayed, made brief and impressively respectful answers to those who were interrogating Him unfairly, and then prayed for His persecutors to be forgiven. I think about how I'd act if I had been awake for at least 24 hours and was being treated like that; I am pretty sure I'd be a pain in the neck. I'd be feeling sorry for myself, furious that my friends were failing to help me and stand up for me, and there is no way that I'd let myself go through all of that torture for someone else's benefit if I had the power to stop all that was going on. But Jesus let it happen. He let all of it happen. He stayed up all night only to be treated shamefully on our behalf. The perfect King allowed Himself to be shamed more than any common criminal would deserve. He was completely human (He asked for water on the cross), and allowed Himself to be put through all of this despite His exhaustion and humiliation. He let it happen. He sacrificed His sleep, His peace of mind, His dignity for us.

Some people say that doing something nice for someone always makes you feel better. I can pretty much tell you that in my experience, going the second mile doesn't magically give you more energy. But feeling better isn't our motivation for service anyway. Serving someone will teach you lessons about endurance, and it will be good for your heart and soul, even if it doesn't magically make you physically feel refreshed and renewed. So whether we're tired or sick or just plain sad, let's work on finding ways to show attention, share blessings, and spread truth.

If Jesus could stay up all night just to be treated shamefully, why can I not endure enough to even help someone out when I'm tired?

Today I'm asking you to think and pray about ways in which you can serve or show compassion even when you're tired or sick, and I'm asking that you pray for me to have the selflessness to serve through strain. Because really, doing someone a favor when we're tired is the least we can do for what He has done.

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