It happens on deputation. It comes when you’ve made that final push and finally gotten onto the plane to go to your field. It overwhelms when you are trying to adjust to all the new sights, smells, language, and customs. It creeps up when you’ve chased toddlers all day. It hits you hard on Sunday mornings—during church, of all times. You sit down, and you’re so exhausted, it’s all you can do to keep from nodding off. It comes upon you at home when you’ve entertained all week and you finally have time to sit down and have decent devotions.
It can be physical, emotional, over-committed, spiritual, and all of the above—or a few of these in combination.
Every missionary woman gets tired.
It’s at those tired times that we need to be the most watchful. Since we’re all so different—praise the Lord!—we have various reactions to tired:
- Press on. This isn’t a bad reaction, but it might nudge you over the top. Be careful not to press on when you should take a few moments to recharge. Take a nap. Cancel something that’s unnecessary. Reevaluate your calendar. Sit down with your Bible and your favorite refreshing drink. Close your door and prohibit entry—unless it’s a life-or-death issue. (I used to tell our kids that they could interrupt if it was for a life-or-death reason, and they’d crack up!)
- Get angry. When we’re tired, it’s so easy for us to take it out on our family members, the native people, and our field in general. It’s easy to focus on all the things we hate and to forget that we came here in the first place to show God’s love to people who desperately need Him. When anger and negativity creep in, it’s time to totally chill, open our Bibles, and refocus. Why did you come? (Or, why are you on deputation?) Ask God to help you love again. Re-examine your mission statement. Ours is: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:18).
- Become discontent. When we’re exhausted, our minds tend to get squawky. Rant, rant, rant—at least in our heads. I don’t like this; I don’t like that. So-and-so didn’t treat me right. I need/want one of those. I can’t afford this or that. I wish I could dress like my fellow missionary lady. Why do those missionaries have it all together? I hate it that I’m single and have to do everything alone. I hate my husband, because he doesn’t meet my needs. My kids drive me crazy! The Bible says contentment can be learned. Paul learned it—in jail, by the way (Philippians 4:11). Ask God to give you a heart of thanks. Put away your squawking and start practicing praise. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations (Psalm 57:9).
- Plan to leave. You are tired of it all. You might have only been on the field a few months or years, or you may have been there for twenty years or more. But, you’re tired. Your heart starts to turn off. You no longer care if the people get saved or not; they’re beyond help anyway. You want to go back home. Your head starts living in another place—and it’s not where you are. You start telling your husband you don’t want to be here. You’re done! This is a “dead-heart” discontentment. It’s dangerous to missions. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18b). You need a God-designed heart reset. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). When it’s the Lord’s time for you to leave your field, He’ll clearly direct you and your husband, and being content, you’ll know it’s the right time. God will smooth the way, direct the details, and send a replacement, as He sees fit.
But, God in His mercy has taught me through each of these tired times. He’s helped me readjust my focus. He has taught me to rely on Him. God has led me in His will and renewed my joy. He’s given strength in weakness—a specialty of His—and has granted me new mercies every morning. Great is His faithfulness. (based on Lamentations 3:22-23)
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
Wherever you are in your missionary journey, when you’re tired, look to Jesus. Pray to Him. He will strengthen you, carry you, and direct you perfectly.