Running Out of Steam

Older readers will know exactly what I mean by this blog-post title: times when our energy levels take a sudden dip and everything, everything, becomes a huge effort. If you haven’t yet experienced this phenomenon, bless God and pass on. This post is not for you.

If you are still reading, then you know that you are, or have been, in the company of someone who has experienced exactly the same thing — our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s gospel, Matthew 14. 22-36, describes the disciples battling heavy seas and Jesus walking towards them on the lake. Peter jumps into the sea in his enthusiasm, but fear and exhaustion take their toll and he begins to sink. Jesus stretches out his arm and saves him. According to Mark 4.35–41, something similar has happened before. The disciples have been on the lake when a storm has blown up and they have had to rouse Jesus ‘lying in the stern, with his head on a cushion, asleep’ to rebuke the winds and sea. Why was Jesus asleep in the stern? How did he manage to sleep through the storm? It can only have been sheer weariness. He too ran out of steam, just like us.

Being tired is not, of itself, a particularly holy state; but it has the potential to let holiness in. Scripture provides us with several instances of God’s speaking through dreams but also a few occasions when tiredness and exasperation do their work. Think of Naaman the Leper, incensed at being told, after all his trouble, to go and wash in the river seven times. He is ready to storm off but his slave-girl saves him from his folly. Somehow, his being at his wits’ end about his illness makes him receptive to God’s action in a way that all the blessings he has enjoyed hitherto have not. It is the same with us. Sometimes it is only because we have reached the whimpering stage that we can be open to God. We cannot; so God must.

There is one caveat to mention, however. Running out of steam is not the same as being exhausted. Exhaustion is a serious matter and cannot be put right by just a good night’s sleep. When we are exhausted our judgement goes, along with our energy. Our first care must be to rest and regain our balance. I don’t need to tell you how difficult that can be, but it is necessary. If, this morning, however, you are feeling out of sorts, tired, a little bit tetchy, you are not exhausted but you are, potentially, open to God. Your defences are down; you are vulnerable. Excellent! God may be able to gain your attention. Please let him do so.

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13 thoughts on “Running Out of Steam”

  1. Yes, after a busy and exhausting term I am tired out, and as you say, at last open to hear God again.
    Thank you for crystallising and clarifying the nebulous thoughts that have been wishywashying around me.

  2. This is really a message from God for me, no one else.
    Thank you God as you have your eyes on me

    Help others who are in the same situation like mine

  3. Not only older readers might pounce on this blog but those with medical conditions that come with a large side order of fatigue (yes, I have one of those 🙂 ). I am not talking about being tired but ‘stop you in your tracks, nothing left, completely empty’ fatigue. On reflection, probably one of the best things that has happened to me spiritually because, as you say, “We cannot; so God must”. My fatigue continues to increase my dependence on God; doesn’t He use the oddest things? Praise the Lord!

  4. I often run out of steam and look, ask, and pray for God’s help to rekindle my passion for life to no avail. This lingering unfulfillment leads to despair and periods of darkness. All rather irrational I might add, as I don’t really have anything to complain about compared to many people in our society and across the world.
    Running out of steam can seem like a momentary glitch, a downtime when, with a little help, we can get back on track. Sometimes that help doesn’t come, either from God or elsewhere, or at least it seems that way. Running out of steam can then get out of hand and have a catastrophic effect on ones system further down the line.
    Maybe I don’t always get the required inspiration from reading the word of God, or maybe my faith and trust isn’t as strong as it should or could be.

  5. Running out of steam sums up huge chunks of my current life but however I feel I am always open to God and thankful to Him for being alive and able to spread His message of love and peace to others. There are so many beautiful messages in the New Testament to get us all through life without hatred or rancour. His message of love and peace is there for everybody. All we have to do us look with an open mind.

  6. I am still (just!) in my thirties, but your description resonates with my experience of life with a new baby – not so much the sleep deprivation as the sheer relentlessness of everything, and the simplest task feeling like a mountain to climb.

  7. After having been to morning mass, prayed to Our Lord, Our Lady, and to all the Saints in the chapels of Westminister Cathedral, I stand outside reading your words of wisdom and thoughtfulness. What I thought was a struggle to find, was always there within and about me. Thank you.

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