"And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation" (Luke 22:45-46).
I have found that when I battle discouragement in my homeschooling, I also face the temptation to get lax. I often have lofty goals when I enter each new school year, maybe a promising new curriculum or a novel way to teach a difficult subject. My intentions are good and my initial enthusiasm is high, but my expectations are sometimes unreal. My homeschooling goals may clash with the reality of family life.
The children may not cooperate, illness could occur, family emergencies arise – all of which can disrupt my daily routine. I can feel stretched too thin and unable to accomplish all that I had planned. Discouragement sets in, as I become disillusioned and loose my momentum. I can get physically exhausted and emotionally drained.
As a result, mornings may become increasingly difficult to get out of bed. And when I do, I find that it is with decreased energy and reduced drive. Could it be that I am suffering from a case of "sleeping for sorrow?" Simply put, am I worn out from emotional stress and anxiety?
Peter, James, and John had a case of this, and they were diagnosed by the Great Physician Himself, Jesus Christ. These disciples fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane while keeping watch as Jesus prayed. However, Jesus knew they were overwhelmed and humanly unable to fully comprehend all that was about to happen
Hours before, He had sent Peter and John on a mission to prepare the Passover meal, foretelling where they were to go, who they were to meet, and what they were to say. They went forth in faith and saw these events happen exactly as Jesus said. Then, having made ready the Passover, they experienced an unforgettable meal of allegations, prophecy, and betrayal. In an emotional turmoil they were unable to understand that they were only hours away from loosing the earthly Presence of their Beloved Master.
Jesus understood their struggles of humanity versus spiritual. "...The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak" (Mark 14:38).
After three times witnessing their defeat with the flesh ("for their eyes were heavy" Mark 14:40) and knowing that they were at a loss for words or explanation for their actions ("neither wist they what to answer him" Mark 14:40). Jesus told them, "....sleep on, now, and take your rest" (Mark 14:41)
But as danger approached, He was also quick to warn and exhort them when "enough was enough." In spite of human struggles and physical limitations, they still needed to be spiritually armed.
"Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation" (Luke 22:46).
The disciples' "sleeping for sorrow" was one of being worn out with continual sorrow and extreme anxiety, which was due to an inability to yet fully comprehend spiritually. Although their case can be seen as one of extreme, it is not to lessen our own experience with this "illness," which we can so easily fall into as homeschooling mothers.
Unreal expectations can cause discouragement. Stretching ourselves too thin might produce physical exhaustion. And not keeping our eyes on the Lord will yield spiritual ineffectiveness.
Jesus' cure for "sleeping for sorrow" is to "walk in the spirit."
Even though our first inclination as homeschooling mothers is to "hit the ground running," we need to take time each morning to talk with the Lord and to listen to his Voice through his Word. It may mean starting our children's academics at a later hour or extending our school day till dinner-time. Bowing out of extracurricular activities may be required, or saying "no" to seemingly worthy causes may be necessary.
If homeschooling is a conviction, it needs to be a priority. And as a priority, it needs to be done right. But in order to be done right, our homeschooling requires the fueling of the One Who created the conviction in us – Jesus.
Maintaining a constant communication with our Lord through prayer and Bible reading will enable us to "walk in the Spirit and thus not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galations 5:16)- in our case, tiredness and discouragement. If we seek him first, he will provide the wisdom and strength that we need.
Homeschooling mother, may I encourage you to make prayer and Bible reading a regular part of your day? Stay connected to the only One who can make your homeschooling all that it can be. Then you need not suffer from "sleeping for sorrow"!
Prayer: Protect me, Lord, from this "ailment." Help me to stay connected to Your strength. Draw me to Your Word when I tend to drift, and help me to stay attuned to Your Voice. In Jesus' Name, I pray.
Maribeth Spangenberg is wife to Steve, homeschooling mother of nine children, and happy, new grandmother to one granddaughter. She considers it a blessing and a ministry to be able to encourage other mothers and homeschoolers to "stay the course"!
This article was originally published in Eclectic Homeschool Online (www.eho.org) to which Maribeth is a regular contributor to the Home and Family Department. Maribeth also writes weekly devotionals for Homeschool Enrichment newsletter and website (www.homeschoolenrichment.com).