I don’t know about you, but these days I awake most mornings with a certain level of burden. Sometimes I can identify specific issues and situations which contribute to the weight on my chest I feel even before I’ve gotten out of bed, but in this COVID season, the season itself seems to be enough to maintain a low-level oppression. Oppression, not depression. (At least I don’t think it’s depression).
I was asking myself this morning, “Self, how would you describe the feeling?” To which I answered, “It’s the opposite of being carefree.” So I looked up antonyms for carefree. Found anxious. Yeah . . . don’t like that one, it sounds too disobedient (Php. 4:6). But then I read careworn. Hmmm . . . didn’t know that was even a word. Careworn. Yeah, that describes it. This COVID blanket over everything brings with it a whole new set of cares and concerns. And, eventually, it wears on you. Or, at least it wears on me. Careworn.
Wondering if that’s why the following verse seemed to grab me this morning.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life . . .” ~ Jesus
(Luke 21:34a ESV)
Jesus says, “Watch yourselves.” Don’t let your heart get weighed down (sounds like how I woke up). And then an unlikely trio of weights are called out together: dissipation (think hangover); drunkenness (think the cause of a hangover); and cares of this life (think anxiety . . . or, if you prefer, think careworn). One of those things doesn’t seem like the other two. But they all can have the same effect. A weighing down of the heart. A dulling of the mind. A way to take you out of the game.
The context for Jesus’s warning is being ready for “the Day.” Watch yourselves, He says, for being over-burdened with cares can be just as debilitating as over-indulging with strong wine. Unchecked anxiety can lead to unclear thinking. The cares of this life can have a way of distracting us from our confidence concerning the life to come.
Cue some verses from my next reading . . .
. . . but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a Son. And we are His house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. . . . Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
(Hebrews 3:6, 12-14 ESV)
The writer to the Hebrews is contending for those thinking about cashing in the faith. Following Christ has cost more than they perhaps thought it would. Has been harder than perhaps they expected it should. They’re careworn as well, it seems. So much so, it’s trying their faith. And so they are encouraged to hold fast to their confidence, to grab onto it with a two-handed, vice-like grip. And to hold firm to the end.
Not to be overly simplistic, but I’m thinking that the remedy for being careworn lies, at least in part, in holding fast to our confidence.
I need to recognize that the cares of this life, while inevitable, can also lead to the sin of unbelief. That an unchecked, weighed-down heart can become a hardened heart. That legitimate concerns can lead to a slippery slope. So, I need to “take care.” But I also need my family in my corner, my brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re to “exhort one another every day.” Every day? Really? Yeah, really! Especially when everyday you wake up careworn.
How much do I need to diligently focus on my confidence, on my hope? Pretty diligently. Daily in His word. Reminded of His presence, His promises, and His unfailing power.
How important is staying connected to gospel community? Pretty important. Needing to hear my brothers and sisters urging me to keep on keepin’ on, if not every day, well, at least on Sunday. We were never intended to run the race alone, or to fight the good fight solo. We hold fast our confidence to the end when we do it together.
. . . for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
(2Timothy 1:12 ESV)
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)
Careworn? Somewhat. Confident. To the end!
By His grace. For His glory.