Battle fatigue – it is a real thing for every soldier, and I believe it is a real thing for every Christian called by God to be a soldier. I do not want to say the battles any of us as Christians face are on the same level of a soldier in a war; nothing can compare to the battle fatigue in actual combat and trauma losing fellow soldiers.
Yet, at the same time, I do know that emotionally, there can be battle scars and trauma as we engage the battle as a soldier of Christ. This is where these truths came to help me and encourage me as I faced my own season of battle fatigue. God used 1 Samuel 30 to speak to my soul as I saw David, the great warrior, weary and tired.
He faced not only the kidnapping of his family and the revolt of his men but also the internal battle that nobody could see but God. It is just a few verses, but it speaks volumes of how David and His men felt on that day when it says they wept until they could not weep anymore. It says David was greatly distressed. He was weary and so were his men.
I saw myself in those verses for the first time. I saw other men and women of God, warriors for Jesus who had been wounded on the journey, things falling apart around them, wondering what would come next. David, as a leader, faced the fact that his own men were ready to kill him. In the words of another preacher – “that will bless you!”
When David was weary and seemed ready to quit, he found strength in the Lord. He began to seek God’s path, God’s power, and God’s plan. But there is one more truth that is also very important. It is simply this – there is rest for the weary.
Verses 9 and 10 say “David and the 600 men with him went as far as the Wadi Besor, where 200 men who were to remain behind would stop. They stopped because they were too exhausted to cross the Wadi Besor. David and 400 of the men continued in pursuit.” In other words, these men had nothing left in the tank and they stayed and rested at the Brook Besor. God used these verses to help remind me that it is not only ok to rest, but it needs to be part of the rhythm of our life!
These men could not go another step. They were spent. It was too much for them, so they stayed with the supplies while the others went on to battle. Later, some of the men would want to take away from what these 200 men had done, but David would have none of it. They needed rest and David knew that if they had continued, they would have not been able to fight to the fullest of their capacity.
Rest. Let that word just sit there for a moment. Rest. Say it out loud with me – rest.
It is simple four-letter word, but one that most of us have a hard time understanding or even applying in our own life. Rest is not the same as being lazy or giving up. Rest is what we must do at times to allow our body, soul, and spirit to catch a breath.
Again, this is not about quitting or giving up, but it is allowing ourselves times in our days, weeks, months, and years to pause and allow God to renew our strength for the battle. We must do this because if we don’t, we will become weary in well doing!
So, what does it mean to be weary? The word itself means to lose one’s motivation to accomplish some valid goal – “to become discouraged, to lose heart, to give up.” Warren Wiersbe said, “How easy it is for us to work for the Lord but permit the spiritual motivation to die. Like the priests of Israel that Malachi (Mal. 1:13) addressed, we serve the Lord but complain, “Behold, what a weariness is it.”
The same thing happens to actual soldiers. Part of battle fatigue is being emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent – having nothing left in the tank. And just like David, the smart leaders would know when the men needed to pause and be renewed.
We can learn a few thing from David’s men about rest:
Be courageous enough to admit that you are exhausted.
Resting does not mean you are weak. It takes strength to admit when you are ready to quit. It is only until you admit how weak you are that you can find Christ’s strength sufficient for your every need (2 Corinthians 12).
They took time to rest but not run away.
As Christians, when battle fatigue hits and we become weary, so many just cut loose, quit, give up, cut ties, and essentially say we’re done. Many quit church, quit worshipping, quit serving.
These then become casualties. Yes, we need rest, we need recovery, but we must stay by the stuff just like these men. For these men, they could not go and fight, but they did what they could.
Not everybody is tired at the same time.
Those who are stronger, encourage those who are weak. Fight for the ones who can’t right now. Then when we need a rest, they’ll step up. Don’t grow bitter but come alongside them and encourage and fight when they can’t.
This is only a season.
They did not stay weary; they did not stay tired. There was a season of rest and then right after this chapter, there came a new season of renewed passion for making David king.
Whatever season you are in, trust the Lord. If you are in need of rest, find it, seek Him, let Him renew you then prepare for the fresh season He has for you!
Jesus understood there were times He was teaching all day, working miracles, worshiping, and being among the people. He also knew there were times when He would go off alone, be by Himself, and allow God the Father to renew Him and prepare Him for the next season of ministry. May we follow the example of our General.
Take hope Christian soldier, if you are experiencing battle fatigue, there is rest for the weary, right at the feet of Jesus! (Mark 6:31)