“Thus says the man, I am weary, O God, I am weary, O God, how can I prevail?”
As many of you know I am a fan of the American Musical Theater and have appreciated the wonderful songs that have been produced over the years for Broadway shows. One song I have appreciated since I first heard it is Ol’ Man River by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. It is included in the score for Showboat and has these lyrics: “I gets weary and so sick of tryin’, I’m tired of livin’ and scared of dyin’ but Ol’ Man River he just keeps rolling along.” Those lyrics came to my mind as I read the scripture verse above.
The lyrics are sung by Joe who has worked on the paddle wheel boats like the Cotton Blossom and along the docks of the mighty Mississippi River in the 19th century. He has toted barges, lifted bails, he’s gotten drunk and he has landed in jail. He is well acquainted with weariness that comes from hard work and suffering in life. People are born and die. People work and strive as they live. People come and go. In spite of all these changes in human life, the mighty Mississippi River keeps on rolling along, seemingly oblivious to all that is happening in people’s lives.
It is true that we get tired and weary. I remember coming home one day so exhausted! I had worked an early shift in the dietary department of a hospital, came home, crashed on the bed fully dressed, only to be awakened by the sunlight later, rising from my sleep, rushing to the phone to call and say that I had overslept before I realized I had already worked that day. I was so exhausted that I had not yet had enough sleep to be restorative. My fatigue led to a temporary disorientation. Now that is tired!
And yet there are those times when we are bone tired. We fall asleep and then awaken … refreshed and renewed … ready to begin a new day. That is a good kind of weariness … when we have worked hard and then rested well. God grant us that good weariness that leads to peaceful and restorative sleep.
O God, we do get tired and weary … when we have used muscles we haven’t used in awhile, when we have taxed our brains with problem solving, and when we have been “at it” for a number of hours. When we go to bed let us not be too tired to say, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep Guide me safely through the night and wake me with the morning light.” Let us trust we will awaken refreshed to begin a new day. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.