“Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other good things in a society no longer work… when its food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless.”
Weariness and exhaustion in life are all too common. We go to work day after day, drive forty minutes plus, pick up the kids from soccer practice after work, drive home, make dinner, help with homework, and maybe live with someone we barely talk to (the list could go on), only to start it all again tomorrow. We can get to a point in life where we are almost on auto-pilot, going through a routine without much hope of something more.
Questions and doubts can easily flood our minds. Is this all that we were made for? Where did the joy of life go? How does this happen? What is this weariness in doing good? In The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton has his finger on our problem:
Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other good things in a society no longer work… when its food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless.
This quiet life of desperation describes too many of us. We don’t know what to do to shake the feeling. The world doesn’t seem to work. Nothing seems to help. We’re bored by all the things that once gave us joy.
Our Clue to Joy
A duty in doing what is right—without any sense of delight—often drives us. Fear and doubt gnaw at us from the back of the minds. We fear that what we do has no meaning and our lives have no purpose. We fear letting go. We fear receiving from others what we ourselves cannot provide. Yet, it is in such weariness that God calls out to us to give ourselves again to Jesus who gave all he had for our sake. This is the only way that we can again have joy.
Our clue to joy can be found in Jesus. In God’s Son, we find someone whose strength was spent to the last, whose work looked meaningless, and whose despair was the weight of the world (Heb. 5:8). Darkness descended upon him on the cross, but the strength of the Lord upheld him and did not let him see his work as empty or meaningless (Matt 27:45–46; Acts 2:22–27). He was willing to suffer the horrors of the cross—physical and psychological.
But why was Jesus willing to suffer like this? Why did he spend his days in such sorrow? The prophet Isaiah went so far as to call him, “The Man of Sorrows.”
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 52:2-4).