Ken’s Thursday Blog
Don’t Give Up!
In a recent class I was facilitating, we talked about the concept of “compassion fatigue.” Normally, it is defined as “the physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those who care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time.” We have seen that experience recently in some of the health care workers and first responders as they have battled the issues of our present pandemic of COVID-19.
But I also think many of us experience a type of “fatigue” walking through this relentless plague of the virus, plus the toll it takes on us as we navigate the social and restrictive changes. At first, it was easier, because it was new, different, and even a bit novel for some. But as the days wore on, and weeks became months, and then what appears as setbacks, it becomes wearisome. We started well, connecting with one another by phone, email, or texts. We waved at a distance to many. There was a spirit of generosity in helping those who needed groceries and rides to the doctor or pharmacy.
Yes, we started well, but it’s another thing to finish well. After endless days of the same, and news reports that are discouraging, we find ourselves experiencing fatigue. It is understandable, and maybe even expected. How long can we go on with the demands of such limitations? The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians (6:9, CEB), “Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” I know that the passage speaks specifically to doing the good works that God has called us to do and is not necessarily focused on a pandemic experience of endurance. Yet, as John Piper wrote, “Probably the worst enemy of enthusiasm is time.” We can translate that to say, we can stand anything for a short period of time. But soon, the patience wears thin, and we start to feel fatigued or weary. There it is, weary in well-doing. We almost want to cry out, “enough is enough.”
On July 4, 1951, Florence Chadwick waded into the water off Catalina Island. She intended to be the first woman to swim the 21 miles from the island to the California coast.
Long-distance swimming was not new to her; she had been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. The challenge that day was not so much the distance, but the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. Making things more difficult a dense fog had fallen over the entire area and was so thick she could hardly see the boats in front of and behind her. The boats were there to help keep her on course and to keep the sharks away. Her mother was in the front boat; her trainer was in the back boat with a few others.
She swam on and on never seeing further than the boat ahead. She began to complain about the water—she wanted to get out. Her mother cheered her on—she swam a little further and then she said she was done. Her trainer cheered her on, but she insisted she was done. After about 15 chilling hours in the water, Chadwick gave up only to discover a few minutes later that she had quit within a half-mile of her goal.
Later she told a reporter, “If I could have seen the land, I might have made it.” In 1952 she attempted the feat again. Once more a misty veil obscured the coastline and she couldn’t see the shore. But this time she made it because she kept reminding herself that the land was there. With that confidence, she bravely swam on and achieved her goal. In fact, she broke the men’s record by 2 hours! (bible.org).
Back to our present context, we must constantly remind ourselves these days, that God’s “got this,” and His timing is not our timing. His vision is far more expansive than our own, as is His wisdom. Regardless of how we may feel, there is more in us, thanks be to God, than we realize. God has more to do through us and through His Church. When the world gets darker, His light shines brighter.
So, “hang in there.” God has this. Keep reflecting the love of Jesus to this virus infested world. And remember the words of Paul, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time, we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit” (The Message).