Help for the Fainthearted

Help for the fainthearted, encouragement to endureThere are at least 25 fillers for the saying “____________ is not for the faint of heart.”

Add pandemics and quarantine to the list.

By this time, most of us are tired of it all. The concerns about whether we or our loved ones will get COVID-19, others in public not taking precautions, what the best next steps should be, finding supplies, canceled plans, not being able to go places or see loved ones or friends in person—it all takes a toll.

In Warren Weirsbe’s commentary on Galatians, Be Free, I was especially taken with a section about not “fainting” based on Galatians 6:9. That led me to do a mini word study on “faint” and “fainting.” What I found encouraged me, so I thought I’d share it with you.*

Here are some things that might might help that weary, exhausted, tired out—faint— feeling.

Nourishment. We feel faint physically when we don’t get enough food or the right kinds of food. We’re faint spiritually when we don’t feed our souls. We need spiritual nourishment to stand strong.

Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress…he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Psalm 107:5-6, 9

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. Job 23:12

Companionship. We often face trouble better with support. But it’s hard when we’re alone or even when we just feel alone. Though God often graciously gives human companionship, there are times in life when we find His presence is all we need.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:3-5

Remembering God’s past dealings. Many of David’s psalms were written when someone was after him. There’s nothing like an active enemy to make you feel drained and weary. We can feel the same way with this virus. When it first began, I felt like I was taking my life in my hands every time I went out.

For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. Psalm 143:3-4

David’s response:

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge. Psalm 143:5-9

Confession and repentance. Any number of illnesses can make us feel weak and faint. In Isaiah, God likened his sinful, rebellious people to someone with a fatal illness.

They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. Isaiah 1:4a-6

The remedy:

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel,  you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:16-20

Right motives*

People in Malachi’s time tried to cut corners on God’s requirements (Malachi 1:6-14) and called it all a weariness (v. 13). The church in Ephesus was commended by God for their work, their doctrinal stand, their endurance (Revelation 2:1-7). But, God said:

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Revelation 2:4-5

All through the Bible we’re called to love God with our heart soul, mind, and strength, to love Him above all else. When that love seems to wane, we should “go back to our first love”: remind ourselves “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He has shown His love for us by saving us, drawing us to Himself, providing for us, answering prayer. He declares His love for us over and over.

The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love;    therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6

Let His love for us rekindle our love for Him.

The Thessalonians had the right combination with their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Persistent, humble prayer

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18:1 (ESV says “lose heart”).

Then Jesus told a parable about a widow who kept coming to an unjust judge to plead her case until the judge finally helped her. God is just and gracious: how much more will He answers His children’s prayers?

Then Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee who prayed boastfully, trusting in his good works, and a tax collector who had none:

 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:9-14

Centuries earlier, Jonah said in repentance:

When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Jonah 2:7


We get discouraged when we look at circumstances. But we can look ahead in hope:

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:14-15, KJV

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

Inward renewal

Paul says:

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, KJV

How is our inward self renewed?

Looking to Jesus

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:1-3

The more we behold His glory, the more we’re changed to be like Him:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Waiting upon the Lord

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

May these truths renew your spirit today.


*The definition for one Greek word translated “faint” is “To weaken, relax, exhaust; to have one’s strength relaxed, to be enfeebled through exhaustion, to grow weak, grow weary, be tired out; to despond, become faint hearted.” Other Greek and Hebrew words I looked up that the KJV or ESV translate as “faint” say similar things. Sometimes those words are translated “weary,” “longing,” or “give up.”

*Thanks to Wiersbe for the thought about weariness that stems from lack of love (p. 147 in the Kindle version of Be Free.

* Verses not labeled are from the ESV.

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24 thoughts on “Help for the Fainthearted

  1. I loved your thoughts on spiritual nourishment, Barbara. I needed to read that reminder to nourish my soul this morning. Remembering past times God was there for us also helps us get through the dark seasons like the one we are in now. My mom always used to fill in the blank in the phrase with “getting old” is not for the faint of heart. Now I understand what she menat!

  2. I LOVE word studies and this one is really great. Faint is a great word to ponder as it has far more meanings than I thought. God’s Word is so rich and diving into it like this seems to add extra to that which is already plenty! Thanks,~ linda

  3. I hadn’t realised how many references to being faint there were in the Bible. This is a really interesting study with lots of great tips to help us endure.

  4. What an excellent and timely,post Barbara! I’ve been meditating and writing on the topic of keeping our souls fed, as well…….and i didn’t know there were so many references in Scripture with the word faint! I really enjoyed reading,this.

  5. One day at a time. Looking unto Jesus. Doing what we can. Morning would be here before we know it. Thanks for this reminder. Many blessings to you!

  6. Barbara,
    What beautiful reminders for the faint of heart – and I think we are all feeling a bit fainthearted these days. So great to be reminded that the Lord does NOT grow faint nor weary, therefore, we can trust and rely upon him. I also believe that we need to look backward to see the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives and that propels us forward with courage and strength. Great post!
    Bev xx

    • When I study out a concept in Scripture, I’m often compelled to look up all the verses to make sure I’m understanding it correctly and thoroughly. But in everyday life, especially when a situation is overwhelming, it’s helpful to just grab onto one and remind myself of it all through the day. One day at a time, one moment at a time, He gives grace.

  7. Pingback: End-of-April Reflections | Stray Thoughts

  8. What a great word and scriptural study on the word “faint.” Thank you for sharing Wiersbe’s wisdom as well as your own in putting this all together. May my eyes remain fixed on the One who strengthens me.

  9. As I read your post it was ,”Hope” and “Looking to Jesus” that stuck out to me as my focus for getting me through our current global situation. We need to remind ourselves regularly that as followers or Christ we’ve got more than news facts to hang onto; we’ve got Him!

  10. Hi, Barbara.
    Your points are so well thought out. I was especially struck by spiritual nourishment and its importance. I find that when I go without even a day in the word, I feel weak and ill-equipped. He is Life in every way!


  11. Wobbles of faith and feeling vulnerable are surely common at the present time. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom and hope with us all at #globalblogging

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