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Sarah and Barzillai Would Understand

Read: Isaiah 40:26-31; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

It was time to call my friend. The family had been through one of those wearisome days. The kind that is probably not earth shattering but nevertheless very tiresome. I had been thinking of them on and off for the previous few days; so, I finally made the call. When I asked my friend how she was doing, she said that she was old and slow, a phrase she repeated later on during our conversation. I couldn't help reminding her of the tale of the tortoise and the hare and how the tortoise was the unlikely hero. I have always resonated with that slow but determined "racer." Yet, in her case, there is truth to those words. Circumstances both physical and emotional have worn her body down, and I think it is fair to admit that being in her mid-80s could classify her as at least "a bit old." Even so, though outwardly she has become weaker, the scripture says that inwardly she is being renewed day by day, 2 Corinthians 4:16.

We don't have to be undergoing health challenges or be in our 80's to understand weariness. Life's trials, though they are not wasted by God, James 1:2-4, can tire us out. Isaiah reminds us that even youths can become exhausted, Isaiah 40:30.

There are several scriptural truths that can help buoy us up as we walk in this often-wearisome world. Let's rest in a few of them.

1. The Lord isn't surprised by our weariness and weakness.

In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul reminds us that we are simple clay pots. Our beauty comes not from our strength or invincibility, but from the treasure we carry around. The Lord is pleased to shine through not tough as nails vessels but every-day earthenware pots. Psalm 103:14 says that He knows that we are dust. Not gold dust but the garden variety kind. Yes, we who call Him Master are the ones He chose as display cases for His love and truth. Isaiah 40:26 reminds us that the One Who knows that we get weary is also the One Who created and knows the name of each star. Though our strength wanes, His never does, and Isaiah 40:28 gives us the glad news that He gives strength to the weary. This same One Who knows the name of each star doesn't forget us when we are weary or worn even though we might feel forgotten, Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 49:14-16.

2. The Lord gives us examples of weary ones that He strengthened.

Let's look first at Barzillai and David. Have you ever met a Barzillai? I haven't. Yet God not only strengthened this man with the strange name but also used him to refresh King David. In 2 Samuel 18:27-28, we first meet him. King David had been running from Absalom, his son who had stolen the kingdom from him. He and those who were with him were fleeing for their lives. Those were David's circumstances when Barzillai came on the scene. What do you do for a man at such a painful time? Barzillai brought comforting gifts. He provided food, pots and bowls. These were simple but much needed gifts that refreshed the king and those who were with him.

In 2 Samuel 19:31-39, we meet Barzillai again. King David was no longer running away. No, now he was returning to sit on his throne. Absalom was dead, and the king was being escorted back over the Jordan River. This is when we discover some interesting facts about Barzillai that we previously hadn't known. In these verses, we learn that Barzillai was 80 years old and no longer able to enjoy the taste of food or hear the sweetness of music. David wanted this man who had refreshed him to stay in Jerusalem with Him. There, the king would have seen to all of his needs. Yet he chose not to Go with King David lest he be a burden to him. In spite of the weakness in his body, Barzillai had chosen to do what he could to refresh the king and his men. God used him to bless David at a time of real need.

Sometimes, when we are weary or dealing with limiting circumstances, the weariness doubles because we must say no to a request. First, it is helpful to remember at times like these that God is our Enabler. God will strengthen and enable us to do all that He commands us to do; however, when the door is shut due to circumstances beyond our control, we can rest in His sovereignty. As Barzillai did, we act according to the strength and ability that God provides for each circumstance. Second, Let's look at Sarah, formerly known as Sarai. In Genesis 18:1-15, we have the privilege of listening in on a fascinating conversation between the Lord, Abraham and Sarah. It all began when Abraham offered to refresh his heavenly visitors by washing their feet and providing a meal for them. While they ate their meal, Abraham was, once again, promised a child. This time, he was told when the baby would be born. This is when we learn that someone was listening in the tent. Don't you love it? Wouldn't you have been tempted to do it too? Can you imagine being almost 90 years old, which even then was long past child bearing time and having been promised a child? No wonder Sarah laughed within herself. She knew she was worn out and old and that Abraham was too, Genesis 18:11-12. Even though she laughed and wouldn't admit it, God still made good on His promise, something He always does, Titus 1:2. I love the truth that is pictured in this incident. God brought laughter to Sarah after the birth of Isaac, Genesis 21:1-7. The beauty of that truth for us is that He can do the same thing in our lives. It might seem impossible that God would use us at times of weariness; yet, Paul reminds us that His strength shines through our weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Isn't it good to know that we serve a God Who doesn't run from our weariness but instead, wants us to run to Him for strength?

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 New Living Translation (NLT)

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