When you feel like giving up because you’re tired, disappointed or heartbroken, the last thing you need is more stuff to do. Instead, here are three things to remember when you feel weak. Reflecting, meditating, and contemplating requires less energy than doing — and remembering can be surprisingly powerful!
In How to Keep Going Even When You Want to Give Up I describe how hard it was for me to live in Africa. I was single, I’d signed a three-year teaching contract (it was my first teaching job, and I hated it!), and I was homesick. I wanted the job — teaching grade 8 and high school journalism at an American school for missionaries’ and ex-pats’ kids — but I didn’t know how emotionally, spiritually, socially and physically demanding it would be. I felt weak all the time and I wanted to go home every single day.
But I honored my teaching contract by remembering three things, which I share below. If they helped me get through the hardest three years of my life, they’ll help you, too. No matter how weak, tired, disappointed or heartbroken you feel — or how long you’ve been struggling with exhaustion or depression — you’ll find strength and encouragement here.
Speaking of exhaustion or depression: when was the last time you saw a doctor? It’s hard to make appointments for blood tests or medical exams when you feel weak, but that’s the most important time to take care of your physical health! My things to remember won’t heal serious mental, emotional or physical health problems.
It’s important to determine the reason you feel so weak and tired. A couple years ago I went through a bad bout of physical weakness and emotional exhaustion; my doctor thought I was depressed. I didn’t think I was dealing with depression, but I knew something was wrong. She sent me for blood work and we quickly discovered that my iron levels were extremely low. That was why I felt so weak and tired all the time — and the solution was simple. Iron pills.
Sometimes getting to the root of the problem is the quickest way to find a solution. Other times it’s not so simple. However, regardless of whether you feel weak for physical, emotional, spiritual or social problems, my three tips will help you cope.
3 Things to Remember When You Feel Weak
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture! Today I’m exploring Exodus 13. It’s the perfect story for believers who feel weak, tired, and hopeless. Exodus 13 also offers tips for unbelievers who need strength, energy, and hope.
1. Remember how far you have come
In Exodus 13:3 Moses said to the people, “Remember this day when you came out of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, for the Lord brought you out of here by the strength of his hand.” God freed His people from oppression, bondage, and slavery. It was the strength of one hand of the Lord that brought the Hebrews into a new chapter of life. It was God’s decision, provision and guidance that changed their lives. It was God who set them free when they didn’t just feel weak and helpless — they actually were weak and helpless. Exodus 13 is a summary of things to remember and do in praise of how far the Hebrews had come and who set them free.
What have you been set free from? It’s so easy to forget how far you’ve come (especially when you feel weak and hopeless). It’s so easy to dismiss the wonder, beauty, and awe of God’s love, Jesus’ sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit’s presence. It’s so easy to hold on to the fear, pain, grief, and misery of past mistakes, sins, regrets and memories. It’s so easy to stay trapped in weakness and hopelessness. And yet you are called to remember the gift of Jesus, to celebrate the joy of salvation, to bask in the presence of the Spirit, and to glorify the Lord God your Creator! The whole Bible is an invitation and exhortation to remember, remember, remember who God is and how far He has brought you. When you feel weak, remember how far you have come and who brought you out of the wilderness.
2. Remember that the easiest route is not the best one
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, “The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.” So He led the people around toward the Red Sea along the road of the wilderness. And the Israelites left the land of Egypt in battle formation.” – Hebrews 13: 17-18. God knew that if the Hebrews saw problems and pain, they would turn back into slavery. God knew that if His people faced grief and loss, they would re-oppress themselves. God know how weak His people were, so He provide another way. He took them to the Promised long not by the quickest, easiest, most direct route. Rather, God led them the longer, harder way because He know it was the only way to bring His people home.
What journey are you on? When you feel weak it’s hard to remember that you’re on a journey. It may not be a quick, easy or even fun journey — but it’s a meaningful one with purpose. You’re most vulnerable when you feel weak and tired. That’s when the accuser will hit you with criticism, guilt, self-hatred, fear, doubt, insecurity and mistrust. And that’s precisely when you need to find strength, gird your loins, and keep going. Finding the strength you need to continue is only possible when you remember that you’re not alone on this journey. You’re not on the easiest route, but you are on the best one. And feeling weak is a sign you need to surrender to God, rest in Jesus, and trust the Holy Spirit to keep leading you forward.
3. Remember who God is
Joseph told the Hebrews that God would certainly come to their aid, would help and rescue and free them. And indeed in Exodus 13: 21-22 “The Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to lead them on their way during the day and in a pillar of fire to give them light at night, so that they could travel day or night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night never left its place in front of the people.” The Hebrews were in the darkest season of their lives and it lasted for decades. Of course they felt weak and afraid! They didn’t have the salvation of Jesus or the gift of the Holy Spirit, but they had the Lord God’s pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. They had a constant visual reminder of who God was. He also told them to put a sign on their hands and foreheads so when they felt weak they would always remember Him.
What do you remember when you feel weak? You have the freedom to decide and the power to choose what you will remember when you feel weak, tired, and scared! You get to choose to remember how far you have come, what God has freed you from, and why you’re on this journey. You get to choose to remember who God is, why He sent Jesus, and how to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. You have the choice to remember who you are in Christ, to rest in His strength, and to adopt His identity as your own.
It’s when you feel weak that you’re most vulnerable to attacks — both internal and external. And, ironically, it’s when you feel weak that you have access to more power, love, hope, freedom, joy and peace than ever before. You get to choose which direction you will go.
With His love,
P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.