One of my favorite Old Testament stories is found in Exodus 17. The Israelites are under attack from the Amalekites and Moses tells Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long a Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword (vv 8-13).
Aaron was Moses’ older brother, and Hur was a trusted friend. And I find so much encouragement in knowing that one of the greatest heroes of scripture was not able to carry out God’s call and purposes in his life without the help of family and friends.
I too am feeling tired. I am not fighting an epic battle, just straining to finish well as the build up begins that leads to the end of the school year and the Promise Land of summer. And I am reminded through this story in Exodus that when I’m feeling weary there are family and friends around me to help hold up my arms until the work is finished.
Likewise I am offered the joy and privilege of being Aaron and Hur to others. Because we are created to live and work in community. When life feels strained and hurried it is tempting to draw into myself and put my head into the wind, trying to muster up my own strength and will to finish the work. But I have consistently found that a strategy of self-reliance and disconnecting from others eventually leads to overwhelming discouragement and burnout.
While solitude and rest are necessary for refreshment and should be protected, these disciplines are most effective when we also allow God to lead us to places where others can carry burdens with us – helping us as they reflect God’s love and provision. When I’m feeling weary and strained it is more important than ever to trust God to show up through my community, as well as in the space I make for quiet. Because I do not have to be perfect, but I do need to be present with the people I care about and love.
In this week of weariness I choose to let others draw close and hold up my arms, and I will keep my eyes open for moments when I can hold up others.
It is how battles are won. And how I – with the help of my community – can stay steady till sunset.