2020 has been a rough year for me so far.
Due to my special circumstance that the Lord has providentially allowed me to go through this year, since the beginning of 2020, I only had around on average 3-4 hours of sleep during the weekdays, working myself to exhaustion and wringing myself out until there is not a single joule of energy left in me.
During the weekend, I still had a lot of things to plough through, usually having less than a couple of hours of leisure time during most of my weekends.
There were times in my life, when I have been busy and industrious, but never to this point, never! Being ridiculously busy has definitely taken a toll on my general well-being, health and social life; but worst of all, it has taken a great toll on my time with the Lord.
Oh, sweet hour of prayer!
Oh, the days when I had all the time in the world to just relax in the Lord: leisurely savouring the word of God, drinking and relishing from the riches of his word as a sommelier would relish and appreciate a good fine wine.
Oh, the days when I could pray without setting myself an alarm as I had plenty of time to sit still and pray till my heart’s content – having sufficient time to bring every petty petitions before my King, and even having enough time to linger in his presence, just in hopes that he might whisper to my soul an answer to my prayer or illumine my mind regarding his will that I could not discern.
Indeed, it was a “Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer. That calls me from a world of care”.
Oh, sour hour of prayer!
Now that time has become such a scarce commodity, I did not have all the time in the world to read my bible and pray till my heart’s content as I have done before.
Initially, I felt so much pressure to get up from my knees and go back to work, due to the immediate or imminent demand that I had to meet. Sadly, as time went on, even my minimal moments with God started feeling like a waste and a burden on my heart.
I didn’t want to “squander” too much time with God, but I knew I had to still pray (at least I knew that was the right thing to do), so I trudged my way back to my prayer closet, set a timer, and I forced myself to spend “quality time” with the Lord for at least 40 minutes daily.
Never have I felt prayer to be so sour, and distasteful.
Job, the not-so strong man.
I realized that I was acting like Job. Of course, Job was bombarded with life crises and I was merely facing a life of busyness, but I think the mechanics behind it is similar.
When Job was faced with a certain level of crises, he initially took it somewhat well. When his wife told him to just curse God and die, he replied “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? – In all this, Job did not sin in what he said”.
Job held firm in his faith regardless, and he kept strong.
His firmness actually lasted for a surprising one-week period until he started to break down and complain before God. “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was.”( Job chapter 2, verse 12).
I don’t know about you, but if it was me, I would have broken down and started complaining immediately as soon as all these calamities fell upon me: I was genuinely impressed with Job for holding that long.
However, after reading verse 12, I realized that everyone has a breaking point, even for a strong man like Job. For some people it may just take a little longer, but certainly they too are fragile human beings at the end of the day, and without the grace of God we will all succumb sooner or later.
Richard, the not-so strong man
As I have already mentioned, I have had busy seasons before throughout my life.
Whenever I was faced with such season, I used to hold on strong and firm in my faith like Job, and pray as such – “Oh the extra busyness actually makes me realize more and more just how precious this time with you is God! It makes me more zealous for you and cherish my time with you ever more – Oh how sweet this hour of prayer is!”.
However, just like Job, I realized that after a season of something a bit harsher for a longer period of time – Bam! I too will break down in my spirituality with such fragility! No longer was I so proudly proclaiming “Sweet hour of prayer”, but rather “Sour hour of prayer”.
The Lord’s gentle rebuke
Subsequent to this realization followed a gentle rebuke from the Lord:
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah, chapter 12, verse 5)
It was as if the Lord was saying to me “If you will compromise your faith and break down with mere busyness, how will you fare when on top of this you are to face actual crises and some serious spiritual assault from Satan as a cherry on top”.
Being a sensible Christian, obviously my normal pattern of response to such busy lifestyle would be to restructure my life so that I have sufficient energy and time for the Lord – but again as I have mentioned, the Lord has allowed this season providentially for a special reason that probably will be too long and boring to mention here.
But I can definitely see that one of the lessons that he has prepared for me to learn through this special busy season is to latch onto Him and enjoy Him despite my ever lacking of energy and time.
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians chapter 4, verses 12-23)
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.