Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead. Hebrews 12:13
Perhaps you remember the moment you stood against the gale force winds, ran out of strength, and just gave up. Every muscle in your body went limp. Your shoulders drooped. Your iron turned to mush. It was too hard to fight the good fight anymore as you realized that you were running on empty.
I’ve had such moments in my life. One, in my early forties, lasted 3 years. By God’s grace, these are made up of moments instead of spans of time. They are comprised of bad days, not months or years. But oh, how I know what it is to live with lameness; every spiritual bone dislocated. Please know that I am not discounting spiritual burnout. There is a time to acknowledge the need for rest. There is a place for critical care. This scripture is not to deny any of God’s children a dark night of the soul. But I believe that the point is this ~ we do not need to live there nor were we designed to make that our dwelling place. The night has a defined beginning and end before the dawn of renewed faith.
Much is forfeited when I throw up my hands. While at the time it feels like a relief, the payoff is short lived. Faithlessness and despair surround me with dark shadows. I pay dearly if I throw my faith away and give up on God. But here’s the thing ~ I’m not the only one whose faith suffers. When others see my tired hands and weakened knees, when they see that my way is no longer straight, they will fail to be inspired when their own faith is tested. My testimony of God’s goodness and grace are infectious and instructive. By holding on to Jesus, I teach others to do the same. “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.” Isaiah 50:4 Those who throw in the towel lose credibility to speak to weary pilgrims.
The writer of Hebrews would be greatly displeased if we interpreted his words as a rebuke to just suck it up and paste on a smile. We must read between the lines. God promises to strengthen our hands. God gives strength to weak faith muscles. He leads us in straight paths. He heals the lame. While the scripture in this passage sounds like a command to self-heal, it is an urging to turn to God for renewal. We cry out in need, we submit to the Great Physician and Counselor, and He heals.
Like the pied piper, are we leading others onto the path behind us to unshakeable trust in a God who does all things well? Moving through seasons of suffering is critical to the other members of the body of Christ.
By Your grace, don’t let me bring lameness to Your body starting with myself. Amen