“Look, it’s the Japanese businessman walk,” Peter said.

My gaze turned to where he indicated. Sure enough, there was a man moving along with stilted gait: hurrying, and trying not to appear as though he was. Shoulders straight, yet back somehow stooped. Left hand, clenched into a fist. Every line of his body, every nuance of posture stressed, practically screaming, “I’M ABOUT TO BREAK!”

If we’d been on foot and not locked into position by heavy traffic, perhaps we would have fallen into step with him and offered a few kernels of kindness. As it was, I followed him with my eyes until he was out of sight, and later prayed for him.

If we’d been able to offer our kernels, perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this now. You see, though I wasn’t able to talk with that man earlier this week, I am able to talk with you.

Perhaps you, too, are feeling the strain today. Overwhelming stress. Numbed with grief. Suffering abuse. Frozen in fear. Stretched to the breaking point. Not sure if you’ll make it.

The Japanese have a saying: Gambatte (“gam-bah-teh”). You don’t have to walk very far down a Japanese street before you hear one person saying it to another. It’s a form of encouragement. Gambatte means many things, all rolled up into one short word. It means:

you can do it!
keep at it!
keep pushing forward!
stick to your post!
refuse to budge!
do your best!

Sounds great, doesn't it?

Higa sensei, the pastor of Seaside Chapel, hates this phrase. He recently told me that underneath the meaning, there’s a nuance that implies this is all done using human strength.

And, as those of us who have at some point actually experienced what it is to be broken, I can tell you without a doubt that human strength is not enough.

So, if you’re in that place, please don’t gambatte.

Some people may be stronger than others, but we all have a breaking point. Instead of pressing on in our own strength, let’s resolve instead to press into Jesus’.

I’m currently crafting a post about burnout, but this morning I couldn’t help feeling the urgency to throw someone a lifeline. So, here it is:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

No matter how stressed or busy you are today, please take some time to meditate on these verses. Just pick a phrase or two to concentrate on. When meditating, concentrate on a word or two at a time for 10-20 seconds, or longer. Allow God to speak to you through His word.

Chances are: the more you think you don’t have the time to do this, the more you need it.


Picture source