The 17th century author and theologian, Thomas Fuller, lamented, “We are born crying, live complaining and die disappointed.”
“Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, and old age a regret” opined the 19th century British statesman and Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.
Noted for his wit, word play and short stories, William Syndey Porter, known by his pen name O’Henry quipped, “Life is made up of sobs, sniffles and smiles.” Then he added, “With sniffles predominating.”
And Janis Joplin, a rock and blues singer/songwriter of my generation once cynically said, “Life is something you do, while waiting to die.”
All of these quotes can be summed up in one word. One feeling. One experience. Futility.
The word just hangs there. Ominous. Foreboding. Menacing.
It’s the feeling of the exasperated young mother who can’t stay ahead of housework, doing dishes and washing clothes. And on top of that she’s trying to work a job. Take care of children. And love her husband. Life seems to press in. It’s futile.
It’s the feeling of the business man with work piling up on his desk. With cutbacks he’s doing the work of three people. He works long hours, but never can get caught up. And with a demanding boss, unsympathetic co-workers and impatient customers, it just seems so….futile.
It’s the feeling of the teenager who’s trying to live up to his parents’ expectations. Join the “in-crowd.” Be cool. And excel in school. The burden is often too great; they’re ready to drop out of life. Futility.
Futility fueled by fatigue. Wearied by the disappointments of life. Worn out by its demands. Exasperated by its failures. Crushed by broken dreams. It makes you want to…..
And then I remember. And so do you. That scene long ago on Calvary’s hill. There hung the one, last hope for mankind. Bruised. Beaten. Broken. Dying on the cross. They had come so far. So close. So near to the goal. Now the futility of it all hangs over them. The apostles. The disciples. The women that followed.
Now’s it over. They go home. Feeling the futility of it all.
Three days later everything changed. Futility turned into possibility. Sorrow into joy. Disappointment is overcome by wonderment. Fatigue becomes fearlessness.
Now life is different. They move forward. Full of hope. With new vigor. Increased resolve. New found purpose. Unwavering commitment. Christianity is born. And the world is never the same.
The risen Lord offers you and me the same promise as we fight emotional and spiritual fatigue that borders on futility.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
Maybe the words of W. Scott Lineberry describe you.
“For many, the search for Jesus is initiated from experiencing an event in life so powerful, it awakens the dragons of faith; from pain so deep, it calls on the hidden fears of the soul in an effort to survive. For others it means a serious personal life survey that ultimately forces the confrontation with the futility, anesthetics, and despair in their lives.”
Well, your search is over. Your yearning for rest is near. Your weariness can soon be eased. Your fears relieved. Your pains healed. Your hope restored.
Jesus promised, “I have come that you might have life. Life in all its fullness” (Jn 10:10).
He came to give you an abundant life. He died to provide pardon. He rose from the dead to vanquish futility.
Persevere problems. Continue believing. Keep fighting.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman