Fatigue in battle. This is probably not something all of us are familiar with. Not many of us have been in a combative moment where we needed to use all the resources surrounding us to survive, let alone thrive. If we look past the worldly battles and focus instead on spiritual battles, then maybe we have a little more experience with the word “fatigue” than we realize. Spiritual warfare is something we face daily. Struggling to make sense of spiritual battles in a physical world can be tiresome, at best. There are times when our spirit is weak and tired. When did the Old Testament character, Moses, feel this fatigue? At the command of an actual battle… with his arms in the air.
In Exodus 17, Moses found himself in the middle of a battle with the Amalekites who were fighting his fellow Israelites. Moses knew going into the fight that if his hands stayed in the air, God would favor his people, but if they came down, his people would bear the consequences. Holding his hands in the air for a full day, with the sun beating down on him, watching his men wage war, would be a grueling task in general. Taking into account the other taxing activities Moses had been through, it’s surprising that he had the energy or patience to persevere this day-long battle at all.
Moses was with the Israelites… a people with an ability to grate on anyone’s nerves. Look at what just transpired before this battle account: the people were complaining about being thirsty, so God gave Moses the ability to give them drink. Before that? The people were complaining about not having food. God gave Moses the instructions on eating manna and quail for daily meals. It was obvious that the Israelites weren’t keen on listening to instructions (or eating this food for the next 40 years!). Before that, there was more grumbling and complaining from the people… and all of this after the miraculous escape from the Egyptians!
To say that Moses was a little stressed and tired of his situation would be an understatement, for sure. Then, out of nowhere, the Amalekites step in and decide they are ready for a battle! While Joshua is commanding the armies, Moses is spending the day watching (and probably praying!) while keeping his hands high up in the air. Can you just imagine his hands throughout the day? Of course when he first sees the victories on the field, he holds his hands high toward the sky, arms fully extended, fingers reaching to their tippiest of tips! But as the day lags on, and the sun becomes brighter, hotter, more of a deterrent, his arms start to fall. Slowly his shoulders hunch, his elbows droop, and his hands flop. He has the desire to keep his hands high, but knows he can’t go it alone. He needs help. He needs a refresher. He needs God.
How often have we felt this weariness? You know what’s right, you know what needs to be done. But actually doing it… that’s the complication. That’s when we need God most. Thankfully, God never abandons us. Just like He didn’t abandon Moses.
What does God give Moses? Friends. Two people who are willing to pull up the proverbial chair (well, rock, in Moses’ case) set their friend down and hold his arms high again. Aaron and Hur are the blessing that comes just when Moses thinks he can’t go any further and he is losing the battle.
Sometimes, God’s help comes to us in veiled ways. We are expecting a great thrilling rescue, an impressive tale that we can write home about. Or even an immediate end to our battle. Often God’s answer is more subtle. More simple. Making us more humble in the process (how many times was it that Naaman had to dip in that nasty Jordan river?!). God doesn’t take Moses out of the battle, yet He sends in reinforcements. Just like He doesn’t tell us to exit our battles, he tells us to persevere; to finish our race and our fight [2 Timothy 4.7]. God even references battle armor that He has left at our disposal… we just need to use it [Ephesians 6.10-18]! Our spiritual battle is an extensive, tough journey. God knows we will be weary, knows we need help, and gives us exactly what we need!