Loving Like Jesus When You’re Drop Dead Tired (Part 1)

Loving Like Jesus When You're Drop Dead Tired

Tired and exhausted from an unusually long day, I finally arrived home well after dark.  I mumbled a quick ‘hey’ to my wife, then tiptoed upstairs, hoping my kids wouldn’t hear me.  I love my kids.  But I was drop-dead tired.  

Deep down, though, something didn’t feel quite right.  Although I was (understandably) exhausted, I couldn’t imagine Jesus avoiding the people around him.

I’m guessing you can identify.  There are times you feel like you don’t have ‘enough’ to care for the people around you.  There never seems to be enough time, money or energy.

So the question is, ‘how will we respond?’  

In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus and the disciples provide a powerful example of how to do it well (Jesus) and, not (disciples).  Let’s take a closer look and learn how Jesus gives us everything we need to love the people around us even when we’re fried.

A Failed Getaway

John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, has just been beheaded by Herod for calling him out (Matthew 14:1-12). After receiving the news, Jesus needs to get away.  But the hungry crowds follow him on foot and arrive ahead of him, ruining his retreat.

How would he respond?  How would you respond?

Our Natural Response When We’re Drop-Dead Tired

I know how I’d respond.  ‘My cousin was just killed!  My own life is in danger!  I need some time to process, pray and unwind.  See you in a few days!’

This is how the disciples react, too.  ‘Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’ (verse 15)

In the disciples’ reaction, we see our own, natural response to others in need.  Especially when we ourselves are tired and exhausted.  

Let’s break it down.

Our response is natural and understandable

In Mark’s version of this story (Mark 6:30-44), we learn that the disciples are utterly spent from their short-term missions trip. (Mark 6:7-13)  No wonder the disciples are ready for some down time. In the same way, our tendency to move away from others is often understandable.

We let others meet their own needs

The disciples tell Jesus to send the crowds away, and find their own food.   

I live in a major city, with many homeless people.  Like the disciples, it’s easy to brush them off, especially when I’m tired. When we’re low on time or energy, our instinct will be to let others ‘figure it out’ and meet their own needs.  Even when they can’t.

We do what’s best for us, and justify it

Ultimately, the disciples put their desires above the people Jesus calls them to serve. And make excuses by saying they’re short on time and food.

We see this tendency in ourselves, too.  We have understandable reasons for sending people away, but at a deeper level we’re looking out for our own needs.  And justifying what we do to Jesus, and ourselves.

Related Post4 Promises For Your Excuses

In the disciples, we see our (ugly) selves.  

But in Jesus, there is a world of hope for us, and the people that we want to serve.  Even when we ourselves are short on time, energy and love.

Next time, in the final part of this series, Jesus will encourage us, and show us how it’s done.  For now, I’d like to leave you with a few application questions.  

  1. Where in your life do you find yourself responding like the disciples, especially when you are drop-dead tired?
  2. Take a moment to confess that, and ask Jesus for help.  ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9)

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Written by Bryan Stoudt

<p>My passion is helping other followers of Jesus connect their faith with their everyday lives. I focus (mainly) on dating, marriage and personal growth. God has given me a beautiful wife, Sharon, and together we have four children. In my free time, I enjoy roasting my own coffee, running and writing at bryanstoudt.com and other sites, including Desiring God.</p>

  • This is so good Bryan! This is hitting me right where I’m at. Thank you for writing this. I cannot wait for part 2!

    • Hey Alex, thanks so much! I’m so glad that you can relate, too.

  • I agree. We need to be sensitive to other people’s needs and to following our Lord in obedience in ministering to others’ needs even when we are drop-dead tired. Good and challenging thoughts here, which we should all take to heart. But, is there ever a time to send people away or to pull ourselves away to a quiet place? Yes, there is. And, it takes the wisdom of God to know when that time is. For example, in the Bible, the apostles, bogged down with trying to meet the physical needs of the people and trying to do their Bible study preparation in order to preach the gospel, decided to have deacons in the church to take care of the physical needs so that they could dedicate themselves to the study and the teaching of God’s Word. We have to have alone time with God in his Word in order to prepare us to meet the needs of people. We also can’t meet every need, so sometimes responsibilities have to be shared. We also have to do the work of the ministry to which God has called us, which means we may, at times, have to close ourselves inside a room to do that work or to prepare for that work. If we work from home, we may have to excuse ourselves from time with family in order to fulfill the obligations of ministry. These are thoughts which came to mind as I was reading what you wrote. With a lot of things, there are exceptions. There is a time and a season for everything.

  • Virginia Anthony

    Just one of the many reasons I love what I️ do for Paradigm Shift. These articles are so timely it’s scary sometimes. As I sit at home after a long day at work, getting ready to logon again to do more work into the late evening, I cannot forget that I️ also have responsibilities to people in my life. Seasons of busyness come and go, but moments to love people and be a light to someone may not always be available.

    “I couldn’t imagine Jesus avoiding the people around him….There are times you feel like you don’t have ‘enough’ to care for the people around you. There never seems to be enough time…”

    No matter what your daily responsibilities are in your normal working hours, there are people who need your touch, your listening ear and your prayers at all times throughout the day. These are the moments in your days that matter.

    Are you making room to help others see the love of Jesus through you, or are you ignoring these precious opportunities? Great read.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Virginia. I’m glad God brought this before you at just the right time as only He can do.

      I really appreciate your question at the end, too. As I’m home (unexpectedly) overseeing schoolwork for my young son and his friend today, it’s a powerful, timely reminder that this is a ‘precious opportunity’ God doesn’t want me to miss.