2015 proved to be one of the most wearying years of my life. As a family we had to contend with my father having a major illness that eventually led to his death in August and the aftermath of that event as we put his affairs in order. Personally, I was involved in teaching multiple classes at church and on a local college campus, doing maintenance both at home and at my parent’s house since my dad was too sick to do so himself, and involved in a major writing project that required six months of intense research. On top of this I also changed jobs after eleven years in the same position.
As we closed in on Christmas it was a fair assessment to say that I was weary. Not the weariness that comes after a hard day’s work, but the weariness that extends all the way to the soul. The weariness that eliminates the desire to do anything of importance. The weariness that robs the mind and heart of strength and desire. The weeks before and after Christmas proved to be a blessing as the focus on Christ’s incarnation and future return helped to rejuvenate and refresh my soul.
However, looking back on the weariness I felt, I have become more and more convinced that such weariness provides an indirect evidence of God’s existence and our desire for him. This is not an argument for God’s existence in the same way that the Kalam or the Teleological argument is. It relies not on logic or upon the weight of evidence, but upon a longing and desire that we all feel at some point in our lives. The longing for rest. Rest that does not end. Rest that touches to the very core of our being.
That we grow weary is evidence that we are finite beings. We are not capable of prolonged activity, either physically or mentally, without eventually coming to the point where we can no longer go on. And yet, if we examine our own finitude it is not a stretch to imagine what it would be like to no longer wear out or run down. To imagine a being that has power enough to never wear out is no great stretch of the imagination, and many of us, myself included, have often desired that we would no longer grow tired. On reflection, I think this desire is a recognition of the life giving, self-sustaining nature of God. He who is self-giving life and peace, who can speak the universe into existence with a word, it is Him who we ultimately desire.
And amazingly enough, it is this that God promises us if we come to Him in repentance and faith. At man’s creation, he was placed into the Garden of Eden in a state that could best be described as an eternal Sabbath. One in which he would cultivate and maintain the garden, but in which he would never have to labor or grow weary of soul. But in sinning, man subjected himself to futility and a labor that would break down body and soul.
But the promise of the new heaven and the new earth is that God will bring rest and peace. In times of weariness there is perhaps no greater comfort to the Christian than the words of Christ calling out, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Or the assurance of the superiority of Christ’s role as prophet, priest, and king because He guarantees a rest for the people of God. As the author of Hebrews states, “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9, 10).
Perhaps no author captured the imagery of this hope and it’s culmination than C.S. Lewis in The Last Battle. The race in the last chapter where the Pevensies’ and the other characters race further up and further in, never tiring and going faster and faster, awakes in most readers a desire to do the exact same thing. And that is the promise that we are given.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31