So I dropped someone at the airport recently, and on the drive home I was in full autopilot mode. I realised after 15 minutes or so that I was 2/3 of the way to a house I lived in about 8 years ago. (and definitely the wrong direction from my current home). Good grief, am I that tired that I can’t even remember where I live anymore? Lately, the tiredness of children for us has turned a corner to a deep exhaustion where any thought of a time without being tired seems a hazy fantasy.
This is definitely not my favourite thing about having kids. I wish they would sleep in until the exact time when I wished to arise from bed (uninterrupted sleep, of course), that they would not test my patience by being defiant in every single aspect of life. I wish that I didn’t get tired by playing with them, by getting food for them and by working hard to be a good dad. But that’s not the case. It seems like everything in this stage of life is diabolically engineered to make me more tired.
So you might ask, what’s with the title up there? What am I meant to be rejoicing over? Are you saying we need to rejoice because we have kids and that in itself is a blessing? Or, rejoice because this is a miracle of life and you won’t get to experience this magical time of life again? Or, rejoice because we live in a lucky country and are far better off than many in the world?
Well, no. I’ll clarify: I don’t think those are terrible reasons for gaining some perspective. Actually, they’re quite reasonable. I’m not trying to guilt you for overlooking the good circumstances of your life, a mistake which I frequently make. But these are not the reasons we’re called by God to rejoice.
Lift your eyes a little higher, beyond tiredness. Actually, beyond any of those other circumstances that I mentioned too—any of which could be taken away in an instant. Paul reminds us and the Philippians from his prison cell:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Rejoice in the Lord. The one thing that won’t change, the one person who can’t be taken from us, the one situation that can never sour. Paul goes on to encourage us to bring everything to God in prayer, and in doing so, the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus [Phil 4:5-7].
That is what I need right now. Some peace. And actually, he’s saying that this is what we always need. Rejoicing in the Lord should not be dependant on whether we are exhausted, rested, well, ill, happy, bereaved etc. Because it’s not even about our situation. It’s about what God has done for us: Our salvation in Jesus, and the work of his Spirit in us to shape us to be more like him.
Here’s how I’m going to approach this. Every time I now think of how tired I am, I’ll acknowledge that in a short unspoken prayer to Jesus, and then equally thank him that he’s with me, for what he’s done, and ask him to help me through this. I’m sure there are a thousand other ways to pray in thankfulness and to rejoice in the Lord, but I think if I listed every single one I’d spend more of my day in lists than in rejoicing!