If you have been a Christian long enough, you have experienced at least a few seasons of weariness. Life is not always filled with mountaintop moments. This is also true of our walk with God. Sometimes we walk through dry, desolate valleys where we wonder where God is and yearn for the strength to carry on. I’ve been there a few times. In fact, if you’re reading this in 2021, then you know that we are just getting to the other side of a deadly pandemic that has caused many changes in our lives and in our world. Naturally, the hardship and trials that we have collectively endured can lead to weariness.
If you are weary right now, I want to use some of the themes from the book of Hebrews in order to encourage you to carry on in this season. The book of Hebrews is an interesting one. We don’t exactly know who our author is, and we don’t know who his audience was. While many of the New Testament letters contain enough background information for us to piece together specific details about its situation, Hebrews does not.
However, while we don’t know the exact details surrounding the book, we can put together vital information about both our author and his audience. For the purposes of this article, we can agree that the audience of Hebrews were Jewish Christians in Rome anticipating severe persecution and hardship. In their weariness, they were tempted to turn away from Jesus and return to the safety of Judaism they’ve always known and practiced. Whoever wrote this letter was well acquainted with the community and wanted to offer encouragement and exhortation in order to prevent them from drifting away from their faith in Jesus.
While most of us probably cannot relate to the specific trauma that these Jewish Christians faced, we have experienced hardship and trials. Sometimes trials push us towards Jesus and other times, they have the effect of leading us away from him. You may not be tempted to outright abandon your faith but perhaps you are praying less, reading scripture less, and spending less time learning and growing amongst other believers. You are weary. My encouragement to you is to keep holding on to Jesus. He is a firm foundation and solid Rock as you walk through this season.
Let’s take a look at three passages in the book of Hebrews, what they tell us about Jesus, and how we can be encouraged to remain close to him in times of trials.
Jesus is our Great High Priest
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
This passage reminds us that Jesus is our Great High Priest. In the Old Testament, a priest was someone who stood before God on behalf of all Israel. The priest would offer sacrifices to God for the sins of the people. Since the priest was a human “beset with weakness” (Hebrews 5:2), he was able to have compassion on God’s people, rather than judging them harshly. Jesus is not only our High Priest, he is our Great High Priest. The Levitical Priesthood is no longer in effect but Jesus’ priesthood, which is far better, is in effect for all eternity. This means that we can always come to him with our weaknesses and pain. He not only understands, he’s also able to help us.
We are often tempted to retreat from God when we are weary. This could be due to shame, fear, or a number of other reasons. However, in weariness, we must draw near to Jesus who completely understands what it means to feel weak and has the power to strengthen and comfort us.
The section ends with an exhortation to draw near to God’s throne of grace where we can receive mercy and grace in our time of need. Know that when through Christ, you come to God in your weariness, you will not experience God’s judgment. God will not reject those who earnestly seek him. Instead of judgment, you will receive God’s mercy and grace.
Related: How to Actively Pursue God
Jesus is able to help those who suffer
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV
Again, the author of Hebrews emphasizes Jesus’ solidarity with humanity. By sharing in our human experience, Jesus was able to free us from the power of death. These words would have been particularly significant for the audience of Hebrews. They may have been facing potential death. Instead of turning back to what seemed like safety, the author encourages them to persevere with Christ who has actually freed them eternally from the power of death.
Perhaps in weariness, you have felt like turning to something that seems easier than Christianity. Maybe you are recalling the positive experiences you had before you came to know Christ, and you’re wondering if holding on to your faith is still worth it. However, the reality is that there is no safety outside of Christ. Anything that seems better than staying true to Jesus is simply a mirage. In this season of hardship, I encourage you to hold on to Jesus.
Next, the author reminds us that Jesus was also tempted. Do you remember reading in the Gospels that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan? Jesus’ temptations were real. He was actually tempted. Think about that. But he did not give in to temptation because the will of his Father was worth more than anything Satan had to offer.
You may feel tempted to let go of Jesus, to turn back, and give up. Please don’t.
I want to offer a quick caveat. The temptation to turn away from Jesus is not just about openly rejecting your faith. Turning away from Jesus can be as simple as spending less time in scripture, refusing to pray and fellowship with God, avoiding church, or abandoning your calling. Turning away from Jesus is not always a decision you make in a moment. It can be a slow move away from your faith by turning your affections to another.
Weariness can surely cause this. Perhaps you’ve become weary in well-doing. You’ve experienced trial after trial and it seems like there’s no way out. Maybe you’ve been praying for years for a particular blessing from God but it still hasn’t come. Or, you’ve lost friends and loved ones for your faith. Perhaps you’ve been chronically ill and desire healing that never seems to happen. Maybe you long for marriage, friendship, or a child and it seems like God isn’t listening.
Jesus felt forsaken by God too. He hung on the cross and cried, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” as he bore the sins of the entire world. Jesus is able to help you as you suffer because he suffered himself. There is no suffering we can experience that Jesus is not acquainted with.
Jesus is our hope and source of confidence for approaching God’s throne
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV
Finally, Jesus is our hope and source of confidence for approaching God’s throne. When you are weary, the best place to run to is God’s throne. Earlier I mentioned that Jesus is our Great High Priest. But he’s not only our mediator. Because of his eternal priesthood, he also gives us perpetual access to God’s throne. I know that in seasons like these, shame can cause you to stay away from God.
Maybe you feel like you’re too far gone or that you aren’t worthy enough of coming before God. The honest truth? None of us are worthy to come before God’s throne on our own. But Jesus makes a way for us. We don’t have to approach God fearfully as the Israelites did in the Old Testament. Instead, we approach God boldly through Christ. We have confidence to enter into the presence of God. We have full assurance through Christ. We have been washed in his blood.
The Christian journey will inevitably include mountaintop experiences as well as valley experiences. Regardless of what you are experiencing, your relationship to God through Christ does not change. God doesn’t simply reject you because you are feeling weary. Instead, he invites you in.
My final word to you, weary Christian: keep holding on to Jesus. He is a sure foundation. Life may not be as you wished it would be right now and I can’t promise that things will immediately change. But when you are anchored in Christ, you can have security when you walk through hardship. Not only that, one day Jesus will call us home to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. A kingdom far better than this world. Don’t give up in this season. Persevere in faithfulness to Christ and hold on to his strong arms as he leads and guides you each day.