Sometimes I like to think about how exhausted Jesus must have felt as whole towns followed him around (Mk 1:33). I like to think about this mainly because while I don’t have whole towns following me around, sometimes having chatty little children feels like it. And in the course of trying to persevere through this motherhood exhaustion, there are several truths in which I have found great encouragement.
Jesus knows what it means to be exhausted.
Part of Jesus sympathizing with our weaknesses is his awareness of our physical limitations (Heb 4:15). He experienced what it was like to be busy and in demand, with things to do and problems to solve looming over him at every moment of every day. When I am exhausted from my precious children and the million other things that need to get done, not only does Jesus know I have a personal energy expenditure limit, but he understands it more than even I do. In fact, he understands perfectly.
God created our bodies with limitations.
I imagine that before the Fall, Adam never became easily irritable after a day’s work. But now, after the Fall, part of persevering as a saint is to engage with the Father amidst our limitations. When Jesus chose to put on flesh, he chose to put on the limitations that come with a physical body. Jesus’ response to this limitation wasn’t to push through it, but to submit to the limitations God chose to give the body. John 4:6 talks about Jesus being physically weary after a long journey, so he sat down. Jesus understands our limitations because he has experience in the flesh; God understands because he created the body to be limited in the first place.
Our physical limitations should lead us to trust in Jesus.
I could stay up for 24 hours straight and still not accomplish all the things I would like to do. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to find a friend who doesn't feel the same way. I hear people talk all the time about how we have put modern day families into impossible schedule situations. But the truth is, throughout history there have always been choices to be made based upon human limitations. It is just a matter of if we truly want to trust Jesus with each and every choice in each and every circumstance. Can I trust Jesus when I don’t have what it takes to always read the bedtime story to my kids? Can I trust Jesus when my dinner making skills fail and I have to order pizza? Can I trust Jesus when I have to choose between working out and spending time with my kids on a Saturday morning? Can I trust Jesus when I’d rather be sitting at a coffee shop reading, but I’m playing on the playground with my kids instead? We will all have to make game time decisions on what to do and what not to do. But the key is to remember that God made you with limitations on purpose. If I am truly okay with not being able to do it all, then I am truly trusting Jesus.
In the season of having small children, parents can sleep through the night for weeks on end (even though many would celebrate just having one night) and still not make up the deficit. And while many people who have gone through this phase will tell you that the season will one day come to an end, to truly rest in the midst of it is a necessary thing if we are to persevere in faith. So how do we rest when babies aren’t sleeping through the night and children are testing our ability to be patient? We must recognize that true rest is not a physical thing.
Resting like Jesus.
There have been countless times where asking for help so I could physically rest was the wisest and best choice, but what do we do when that’s just not possible? Like Jesus, many of us will find that the need to take care of others will trump our desire for rest (Mt 14). However, numerous times throughout the gospels we see Jesus continually taking extra time to be alone to pray and engage the Father (Mk 1-3; Lk 5-6). Jesus trusted the Father perfectly in his physical exhaustion because Jesus was actively engaging him in the midst of it. Jesus resolved to have fellowship with his Father above anything else. He may have been physically exhausted, but he didn’t stop engaging the Father. If Jesus spent time praying and asking the Father for help, how much more should we?
Rebekah Hannah is a biblical counselor at The Grace Center for Biblical Counseling in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married to Andrew and has three daughters.