Moses’ arms were burning. They had been up for hours. The staff of God was raised overhead, the weight of it now unbearable. The fire began in his wrists, burned down his forearms and raged in his shoulders. He willed them not to quiver, not to break. His will was running out.
The Israelites’ fate against the Amalekites depended on him. As fatigue overtook him, and he lowered his arms out of exhaustion, the Israelites wavered. The Amalekites began to win. He pushed the staff back up and Israel regained their footing. They took back the lead. Moses had to keep the staff raised for the Israelites to be victorious. It took all of his concentration to keep the pain from winning. There was no way he was going to make it.
And then his concentration was interrupted. He felt the hands of Aaron and Hur steady his shaking arms. They saw his pain. They saw his need. They would stand with him.
They found a rock for Moses to sit on, and as he sat, they lifted his arms. They kept them steady until sunset, when Joshua overcame the Amalekites with the sword. They did it.
This is one of my very favorite pictures in Scripture of the power, the shear need of community. Moses could not do it. He couldn’t. He tried, and he willed, and he struggled. So his friends literally held his arms up. It’s beautiful.
Can I confess something? In my deepest of places, I wish I didn’t need people. Over and over again, that need brings pain. Disappointment. Rejection. Right now I desperately need my arms to be lifted for me.
I am left struggling.
There are those who pass through. A conversation here, a prayer there. People know my story. But very, very few are staying with me until sunset. I catch my breath for a few, but then I’m back at it again on my own. Trying to hold up the weight of the staff that will save.
Community feels like the key to the puzzle I will search for and never own. I initiate, I pursue, and in need, I am still alone.
At the end of the day, I can not make community happen. I can ask, I can share, but I can’t force it into existence. If we were created to live in community, and community is where healing happens, why is it so stinkin’ hard to experience?
If I am honest, and I’m pushing myself to be painfully so in this place, as much as I want to be able to go this alone, I cannot. I have been trying. But my arms are so weary. I want to say that isn’t so, but it is. Day after day, I need a few someones to hear my anxiety and not grow tired of praying for it. I need someone who can speak hope when my thoughts turn so dark they scare me. I need someone who will call me and say, “Are you out of bed today? Get dressed. Let’s face the exhaustion together.”
I need a community to raise my hands.
There is a voice lurking, saying I am too much. It says I’m doing it wrong. My perseverance runs so very thin. My hope-speaking counselor curses at that place for me. I will learn to curse at it too.
My husband speaks a different hope. He said I should ask God for it. Ask God for the community I need. Asking bares the risk of disappointment. But I will.
In my brokenness and exhaustion, I will ask.