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Finding Rest When There Isn’t Any part 1 {Transcript}


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In Ecclesiastes, we learn from Solomon about the errors that leaders are prone too. Too easily we forget we’re human and need rest just like everyone else. This session urges pastors to recover the virtue of rest and to be reminded of the Edenic rhythm that God intended for everyone.

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Three Types of Fatigue That Drive Our Need for Rest

So I’m not often linear in my talks, and that drives some of my listeners crazy. So I’m going to remind you what we’ve just done. We’ve asked why is rest difficult for some of us? Why this breach in our being? And it’s because we think we’re immune, and we don’t have to do what other people do, we don’t have to do what God commands. And now we’re saying, how is it that this rest God calls us to works itself out in the midst of real life? I mean real time stuff when it seems like no rest is available. And now we’re answering, 1 Samuel 30, is King David the one who wrote about the God who makes him lie down leading in a very tumultuous and traumatic context, and in it we not only learn about the character of God, but we learn about the categories of rest. So that’s your heading right now, the categories of rest. In 1 Samuel 30, the scene is like a movie. David and his mighty men come to Ziklag on verse 1, and while they’ve been away fighting with, hiding among, hiding from the Philistines, an enemy has come in, burned the city, and captured all their wives and children. Just to remind you, the fact that we just acknowledged that David is a polygamist, remind you that he is no perfect hero, and that he is what he is by the grace of God. All the wives are taken, the children are taken, as he and his mighty men come to the city, verse 3, they find it burned with fire. Could you imagine how that must have been? They see it from a distance. They start to run. Now these are grown men who are soldiers, running. They’re running toward the fire, running to the city, and in verse 4, when they see that sons and daughters had been taken captive, David and the people who are with him raise their voices, and they wept until they had no more strength to weep. Now pause there for a moment.

1. Emotional fatigue causes need for rest.

These are not gentile soldiers. Little more stoic, my German heritage, little more stoic. These are Middle Eastern Jewish soldiers. And what does it sound like to hear 400 warriors cry? And not just cry, weep til they have no more strength. Have you ever heard one man weep like this? Now imagine 400. They weep until they have no more strength. Have you ever wept so deeply that all your bodily strength was gone, and you’re just lying there on the floor, tissues are everywhere, and you’re spent with the work of grief. And what happens when we’re emotionally fatigued like this? Categories of rest number one, emotional fatigue causes a need for rest. What happens? We often sin. Emotional fatigue itself is no sin. It’s the wisest of responses to the thing they’re facing. But have you ever said this to yourself. You’ve hurt a friend, you’ve snapped at a child, or at a husband or something, and then you’ve said, ah, I’m just tired. And so in verse 6, these emotionally depleted soldiers are so distressed that they speak of killing David. Verse 6, they want to stone him. These are his faithful men. They’ve been through thick and thin together. They know each other. They’ve survived in caves together. And the crisis comes, and now all bets are off. Why do they want to kill their friend, and their faithful leader? Because it says they are bitter in soul. The bitterness of soul, emotional fatigue. Kill him. Make it stop. Make it go away. Blame. You did this to me! Emotional fatigue is a sane and wise response, but sometimes in our emotional fatigue we respond poorly. David in contrast strengthens himself in the Lord his God. David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod. And Abiathar brought the ephod to David “and David inquired of the Lord, shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them? And He answered him, pursue, for you surely shall overtake them.” I am shocked at this verse. What do you mean you’re pausing to ask God if you should go save your wives and kids? I don’t have a category for that. God, should I go? Now we know how David strengthens himself in the Lord. He gives us lots of examples. They’re call psalms. And when, this is no pristine, O God. This is When David says O Lord in the Psalms, when he speaks about the bitterness of his soul, that O, O, it’s a groaning too deep for words. I’ve gone down to the pit. I’m forsaken, I’m forgotten. O God! My children, God! He strengthened himself in the Lord with ugly prayer. I call it ugly prayer, because if you were to look at it, it would not look pretty. Have you ever wept til you have no more strength, and then call out to God? If someone were to knock on the door, if you were to answer it, you would have ugly looking face. He strengthens himself in the Lord because he has the double wound, and some of you in leadership have the double wound. It is the thing itself, his own wives and kids have been taken, too. And then now those he would turn to for help turn on him, they turn against him, it’s the double wound. It is Job’s friends. The double wound. The thing itself, and then how the community hurts you. In light of it, he strengthens himself. Here’s the point. Emotional fatigue cannot be solved by sinful response. Emotional fatigue requires ugly prayer. Strengthen ourselves in the Lord. He will hold us up, because we can’t hold ourselves up.

2. Physical fatigue causes need for rest.

Now verse 10. This physical fatigue and emotional fatigue join. Number two under categories, emotional fatigue number one. Number two, physical fatigue. Adds, adds to it. Can you believe verse 10? “200 stayed behind who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.” Can you imagine with General Patton on the way to the Battle of the Bulge and 200 GIs come up to him and say, sir, we’d like to sit this one out. We are exhausted. And then you remember, wait a minute, wait a minute, these are no restaholic men, these aren’t cowardly, timid men. These are people who have fought and fought and been faithful to David. They have run, fought, hid in caves, fought, run, fought, hid in caves, unjustly treated, now they’ve run to the city to find their families depleted. They have wept and physically and emotionally they are done. This is a faithful soldier, this is a soldier who has worked hard. This is a soldier who has found himself at then end of his physical limits, and cannot go on, emotionally or physically. Set that soldier in front of a Philistine king. But put him in front of an Israeli king, who knows the Genesis rhythm, and the God who makes us lie down, and who knows that we must pause in order to keep going, and David lets 200 soldiers rest. Now he’s pursuing the battle with half his men. Sometimes in a church like the one I serve, we’re very nervous to let volunteers have a break, ’cause we feel like they may not volunteer again. And so, we don’t let them rest. And they’ve served for eight years in the nursery, and they’re needing a break, and they feel guilty, when they have been the most faithful people, they are the least people who need guilt. Let them rest. Go into battle with half. The Lord is with you. Now they find an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. David does a lot of things poorly. He does a lot of things poorly. But one thing that he does well is love enemies. It is amazing. David cannot handle women. David cannot handle power. But time and time again, when he faces an enemy, he shows love and mercy and forbearance to them.

3. The physical fatigue of sickness causes need for rest.

And here he is, an enemy, finds the soldier, and now we add sickness, the physical fatigue of sickness, that’s third category, “And they gave him water to drink, they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, two clusters of raisins, and when he had eaten his spirit revived.” And I’m thinking, what are you waiting on? You have paused to pray and strengthen yourself in the Lord. Now you’re pausing to give this guy who’s sick enough time to recover. They gave him a piece of cake and figs, “His spirit revived, he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights and David said to him, to whom to you belong and where are you from? “He said, I’m a young man of Egypt serving an Amalekite. My master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago.” See the contrast. The one kind of leader that cannot be slowed down by someone who’s sick, the other kind of leader who lets 200 men stay behind, pauses to pray, and now pauses with you in your sickness, to give you food, to give you drink, to give you medicine, these cakes, to give you rest to recover. Then he finds out from this man where they are and what has happened. And then David pursues. They overcome, they capture everyone, and they return. I’m down in verse 21 now. Now you can see it coming, can’t you? The problem. Emotional fatigue needs ugly prayer. Physical fatigue needs physical rest. Sickness requires food, liquids, time. And now, now they’re coming back, having captured, recaptured their families, restored them, and the 200 men, verse 21, who had been too exhausted to follow David, who had been left at the brook Besor, they go out to meet David. Now here is the scene. I would like you to consider, women, I’d like you to consider for a moment that it was not your man who rescued you or your children. Someone else’s man did that. Your man was too tired. Men, let’s imagine you’re the one, faithful, courageous, earnest. Years of hard work, and your mind, your heart, and your body gave out, and you’re watching another man bring your children and your wife to you. Imagine in here what the Philistines in this moment and what that would look like. Now imagine the King of Israel, the anointed shepherd king, what will he do? As they come together, the soldiers who went on and fought are bad-mouthing those who were too tired to go on. I can imagine so. “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children.” Hey, you can have your wife and your child, but nothing else. And David, the shepherd king, says in verse 23, “You shall not do so my brothers. With what the Lord has given us, He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. Who would listen to you in this matter?” Do you see what he just did? David just put himself between the 200 who were too exhausted, and the 200 that went on. And he rebukes the 200 that went on, and by doing that he defends the faithful tired. He defends them for their wives, he defends them for their kids. Little kid has to grow up knowing that his dad was not a wimp, his dad was no coward. The king says he was no coward. And then he makes a declaration. “As is his share,” verse 24, “who goes down into battle so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. “They shall share alike,” and notice verse 25, this king make that a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.