Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
When I first read this line, I took it to mean something like this: Every single thing the day brings requires energy, and I ask for the strength to meet each one of them even when I am tired. At first glance, it’s the day that’s bringing all things. But it’s not the only way to read this line.
Today, give me strength to carry what being exhausted brings into my life. It’s not the things that the day shall bring, but all the things that fatigue brings. Fatigue is an exhaustion that comes from extreme mental or physical exertion. Weeks and months can go by in a blur because it takes every ounce of energy just to survive each day. Every moment becomes something to endure rather than something intentionally lived. Life can be reduced to checking off a nearly infinite to-do list with little time to enjoy a single item on it. Fatigue brings with it a life nearly impossible to bear with hope. Finally, it brings the truth: God’s strength is the only resource sufficient for such a time.
This happened to me once. My husband and I had moved to New York City where he was soon immersed in a new graduate program. I was busy with our infant son, teaching classes at New Brunswick Seminary, writing a dissertation, daily housework, and adjusting to my new home. Like Emily in Our Town, I realized that I was missing the beauty of my days. I could get everything done, but couldn’t seem to appreciate it or muster the strength to find God in it. With no better idea, I took a chance and met with Brother Clark for spiritual direction. Brother Clark listened to me, paused, and said, “It sounds to me like you’re dealing with the blessing of answered prayer.”
He was right. All of it came from receiving a yes to heartfelt prayer. Although nothing changed, my world was transformed.
I think both readings of this line bring hope and peace. I ask for strength to bear what the day brings, and I need strength to bear what fatigue brings. Once upon a time in New York City, the day brought me the blessed reality of answered prayer – and fatigue brought me the truth that I could live in its midst and never see it.