The lyrics to the song “Sometimes by Step,” written by Rich Mullins and David Strasser, describe what it often feels like to labor for the Lord: Sometimes the day could be so hot / There was so much work left to do / But so much You’d already done. Ministry is work, and work can make us weary. Although Jesus was weary from the journey to Samaria, He was eager to explain the gospel to a woman who came there for water.
Jesus’ disciples had gone to find food. When they returned, they urged Him to eat, perhaps because they saw the people of the town approaching (vv. 30–31). The disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ statement is almost humorous. They interpreted it literally when He replied, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (v. 32). Jesus explained that He was sustained by doing the will of the Father. Ministry is hard work—but God is able to sustain us even when we are weary.
The apostle Paul makes a similar point when he describes the sufferings he underwent to fulfill his ministry. He uses a term drawn from the athletic realm when he writes, “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:29).
Ministry is not easy. It is often a struggle. But it can also be energizing. Just as Jesus relied upon the Father to sustain Him, so too we depend upon the energy of Christ to strengthen us as we serve God.
This power comes to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who equips us for service. The Spirit is Christ’s gift to the church. He enables us to do “greater things” (John 14:12). If you are exhausted in your service to Christ, perhaps it is a sign you are trying to do it on your own.