A Dawning Light for the Burnt-Out Heart

The other day, when I tried to pray, I felt like all I could do was come and sit with Jesus. I didn’t have any deep thoughts or spiritual words to say. Although thankful to be healthy and physically fine, I was tired, emotionally exhausted by the toll this year has taken. In the early months of the pandemic, I had been motivated and busy trying to think of creative ways to connect with others and educate and entertain my kids. Now, ten months in, with winter closing in, I was feeling lethargic and burnt-out. I opened my curtains, sat on my bed in the dark and tried to pray. At that moment the sun began to rise, and my window was lit up with pink and gold and orange. My eyelids opened to a slow, soft light that seemed to glow just for me, timed perfectly with the few precious minutes I had before the Lord. And it brought tears to my eyes because it spoke to my burnt-out heart. The light was coming, and it didn’t depend on me at all. All I had to do was turn toward it and wait.

The season of advent and Christmas is good news for the burnt-out heart. A light has come and is coming, and his name is Jesus. The Gospel of John says: “The Light has come into the world”, and “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 3:19, John 1:4). And this season as the world awaits the celebration of his birth, is an invitation to sit in the dark, and turn toward the horizon, and wait and hope for the dawn of his coming. 

This year, like so many of you, I imagine, I come to this season tired. Not tired from activity necessarily (although I don’t claim to know your circumstances, and many healthcare workers are certainly facing a deluge of busyness), but tired from constantly re-assessing my decisions, tired from taking care of my kids with less outside help, tired from trying to muster up hope and a positive attitude in chaos, tired of zoom relationships and distanced worship, tired of waiting for things to return to any semblance of normal. For some, the year has brought terrible hardship, sickness, need and pain. For others, it has brought a more subtle uncertainty and anxiety. But none of us are the same as we were before, and all of us have been stretched. 

And yet, advent comes. This season of waiting at the end of a year of waiting. And right at that moment when we are perhaps most weary, or discouraged, we turn towards the coming of Christ. When we are at the end of ourselves, there is no pretense that we are able to be our own light. Perhaps feeling “burnt-out” and unable to kindle the fire of our own energy and motivation is a perfect picture of how much we need a savior to come and chase away our darkness. Nothing can stop him from bringing light and life to the world. It doesn’t depend on us, on our performance or righteousness. It doesn’t depend on our energy, or lack of energy. It doesn’t depend on our parenting skills or productivity at our jobs or in the home. It doesn’t depend on us at all. It only depends on him. And unlike the uncertainty we have been wrestling with this year, his coming is certain. He will come as surely as the dawn. Hosea 6:3 says “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

Perhaps feeling “burnt-out” and unable to kindle the fire of our own energy and motivation is a perfect picture of how much we need a savior to come and chase away our darkness… It doesn’t depend on us at all. It only depends on him.

So if all you can do this advent and Christmas is sit in weariness of some form or another, then take comfort in this: Jesus will come to us as surely as the dawn, his light and warmth the perfect remedy for our burnt-out hearts. And as we feel the first rays of his coming kingdom caress our waiting faces, and kindle our souls, we will know his light and life in a way that will be all the more beautiful because of the darkness in which we waited and longed for him.

“O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, by Helen H. Lemmel

This article (c) by Amy Hughes was adapted from the original article first published in The Lois Project

Top photo credit: sunrise winter landscape from graphicstock

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