Push Through Exhaustion

We, as Christ’s followers, are so often overcome with feelings of exhaustion. It can be overwhelming to be a Christian in this world. We feel mentally exhausted. Physically exhausted. Spiritually exhausted. The call for us as the Body of Christ is not to exhaustion. It’s not to allow the frailty of our human selves to get in the way of the work we do for God. The call of the Lord is to endure!
When I think of endurance in the conversation of racism, I can’t help but think of a Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer. Hammer was born in 1917 as the youngest of 20 children to a Black, sharecropping couple. She experienced her first purposeful racist act against her family while at a very young age when a local white supremacist group poisoned her family’s livestock. As an adult she experienced an even more heartbreaking act of blatant racism. Several years after she was married, she needed surgery. The surgeon, who was white, performed a hysterectomy without her consent or knowledge which was a common practice in the south to sterilize poor Black women as a racist means of population control. Without having any say in the matter, Fannie Lou Hammer was unable to bear children.
Hammer became passionate about her and her fellow Black American’s constitutional right to vote. She was an activist in the movement to register her community to vote, among many other things. The racist assaults on Fannie Lou Hammer’s person are far too many to go into detail here, so I will just list a few. She was fired from her job. She was shot at in multiple drive-by shootings. She was arrested. She was beaten by police while being held down in a cell, and she was sexually assaulted by police officers while being held in a cell. Talk about exhaustion! Fannie Lou was so tired in fact, that she was famously quoted saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” yet she continued to stand for the rights of Black communities. She pushed through her exhaustion. She pushed through the fragility of her human self.
Fannie Lou Hammer is one of thousands of Black and Brown Americans who’ve pushed through their fragility to be agents of change. And even though we can look to these men and women for our inspiration – there is one person who not only inspires us to continue, but commands us to. Jesus.
Jesus was a man. So often as a man, he was tired. Tired of the sins of the religious leaders. Tired of his complaining companions. And tired of carrying the weight of the sin of the world. It was Jesus who was exhausted and went down to the bottom of the boat to sleep, only to be awoken by his disciples who lacked faith. Even in his exhaustion, he calmed the storm. He was exhausted in the desert for 40 nights and 40 days with no food or drink – tempted by Satan. He pushed through his exhaustion in order to remain blameless, only to be lynched for our sins.
It was Jesus who was exhausted in the garden when He asked His Father to let this cup pass from Him. Have you ever seen the Son of God in such humanity? Knowing what he must do, but even so feel exhausted at what was ahead. Even in his exhaustion, he picked up the cup that was meant for him to free us from our sin. It was Jesus who, in his dying exhaustion, asked his Father to forgive those who were lynching his earthly body because “they know not what they do.” We can say in all these things that Jesus too must have been “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
What can we take from these lessons so we too can forge ahead through exhausted and fragility? Well, when Fannie Lou Hammer forged through her exhaustion she made progress for Black voters and the Black voice in the South. And when Jesus did the same, He made progress for ALL of God’s people to have life and to have it everlasting. So, I say to my white Brothers and Sisters, can you forge through your own exhaustion and fragility to continue learning about the plight of your Black brothers and sisters? Can you forge through to continue the conversations with the white people in your life? Can you forge through to speak up against racism in all forms? Can you forge through to continue the work of Christ Jesus, to care for “the least of these?”
We are starting here, together. The body of Reading City Church (and anyone else who wants to join us) are committing to a 30-Day Challenge of learning about race, the history of racism in our country, and how racism is still affecting People of Color today.
Will you join us? Find the challenge here:
-RJ Saunders, RCC BAR Team & Advisory Council Member

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