Wearisome Apologetics

I am a physical therapist assistant in a long term care facility. Everyday I have to use apologetical approach when trying to witness to coworkers. It wears me down some days engaging in these discussions and seeing all the suffering around doesn’t help specifically degenerative brain diseases. Then doubts flood my mind again and I battle them back with the Word of God.
These doubts include:
If truth is truth why do we have to work so hard to defend it?
Honestly my last question is do any of you experience these feelings or thoughts after engaging in apologetical discussion? Any tips on recovering after hard conversations?
Grace and Peace to all.

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Hi Troy,

I believe there are others such as @SeanO who can deliver a more thorough response to the question regarding, “If truth is truth, why do we have to work so hard to defend it?”

My initial thought went to Paul in Romans 3:11: “there is no one who understands; no one who seeks God.” Even though we believe in the absolute truth of God’s Word, us in our sinful nature will never be able to handle the truth. The sheer ability for anyone to seek God and begin to understand truth is ultimately from God Himself, as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9.

If the Spirit isn’t working in someone’s heart, no amount of apologetic arguments will convince them to follow Jesus.

I say that not to discourage you from apologetics, as I believe they are a wonderful tool. On the contrary, I say that to remind you that ultimately it is the Spirit who turns us towards Christ, and the method the Spirit uses for this process may be apologetics for one person, but not necessarily the other.

In an environment that you are in where there are very difficult circumstances all around you, sometimes love and sympathy are a better apologetic than intellectual arguments. Consider Jesus; when the situation called for love and sympathy, that is what He displayed. When the situation called for an intellectual response, that is how he responded.

I hope this was easy to follow and provides some clarity!

God bless,
Ashton

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@Troy_S May the Lord bless your ministry in a place where the hurts / needs of this world are so apparent :slight_smile: I agree with @ashtonbrewer94 that sometimes what is required of is not words, but just self-less love and compassion for those who are hurting. Each person and situation is different.

One thing that might help you is to think through where each of your coworkers is at on the Engel scale and what it looks like to move them closer to a place where they could accept Christ. I once heard some missionaries share how they regularly analyzed where people in their community were at on this scale and then prayerfully considered how best to minister them / what might be worth raising with them in conversation.

For example, if someone is a -12, they may not be in the right place to hear logical arguments for God’s existence, so trying to sow intellectually is going to be not only wearisome but downright fruitless. Building trust and sharing some stories from your own life may be much better in this stage than getting into any kind of intellectual discussion.

While the Engel scale is not an absolute guide, I hope it helps you think about how we can understand and approach different people to avoid wearing ourselves down by doing the wrong thing in the wrong season of another person’s life. We can sow seeds, but only God can give the increase :slight_smile: You might also enjoy the book “Fool’s Talk” by Os Guiness that discusses sharing Christ persuasively. Keep up the good work!

image


https://www.amazon.com/Fools-Talk-Os-Guinness/dp/0830844481/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=os+guiness&qid=1600981473&sr=8-4

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@SeanO I had never heard of the Engel scale. Thank you for sharing this strong visual scale. I am analytical of people and looks like a great tool.

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Hi Troy,
You are asking very important questions which I have asked myself. Allow me to address some of them.

I too, have worked for many years among those with neurological illnesses and have been burnt out - I mean seriously burnt out. In my case, I was involved in answering intellectual questions within my own self while burdened by mind-numbing work. So I am saying this out of bitter experience, not because I am an expert in this. Over the years, I have identified two major reasons why Christian workers, especially in health-related work get burnt out (there are more reasons) and I try to consciously avoid this.

1. We carry burdens that we are not meant to carry. This includes emotional and physical burdens. The burdens that we are meant to carry, the ones that Christ wants us to carry, are easy and light and bring rest to our souls not weariness.

Matthew 11:28-30 - Come to me you who are weary and burdened 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. (Berean study Bible)

  1. We do not cast our burdens on Christ. It is easy to forget times of quietness, prayer and Bible study in the busyness and even when we have time, it is spent in worrying and the sorrows of our work.

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)

I have found the following definition / description of apologetics useful.
Apologetics is the defense of my faith, not a defense of God or Christ. Jesus, who is the truth, is the Lion of Judah and needs no defense. We need to defend and explain why we believe in Jesus as the truth.

Yes, the work of Christ is often hard! May our Lord refresh your soul and fill you with living water that will well up unto eternal life as you serve Him faithfully - that is my prayer for you.

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Hi Troy. Thank you for your honest question, and bless you for witnessing to your colleagues, even when it is challenging.
Many times I have had conversations where I have had to use apologetics in order to defend orthodox Christian beliefs. This can be draining, especially if you seem to be making little impact and having the same conversations again and again.
As to why it is so hard to defend the truth, I believe there are several reasons, but here are two:

  1. People are often afraid that if they accept the truth of God, their lifestyles are going to have to change. This is primarily a moral hinderance to them, rather than a reasonable critique, therefore people often throw up various questions as a smokescreen with no real desire to engage with the answer.
  2. Enlightened 21st Century (and especially Western) Christians tend to forget that there is a spiritual battle going on. It is in the best interest of Satan and his minions to ridicule, muddy, and deny the truth. The more he can pour scorn on the truth by making it sound like superstition and the beliefs of unthinking zealots, the better.
    I have often thought that if the Bible was not the truth, why have so many governments tried to suppress it?
    The advice of both @ashtonbrewer94 and @SeanO is great advice. It is about determining where your listeners are at. I would also advise you to ask more questions of your colleagues. Frank Turek of Cross Examined suggests asking “What do you mean by that?” when someone makes a negative statement or asks a question. Get to the core of their beliefs, why do they think the way they do? Another question is, “Really? What are you basing that on?” Where do they get their information? Have they done their research or just repeating sound bites?
    In the core module Ravi taught that everyone has a worldview and must give an account of 4 things: Where do we come from (origin)? Why are we here (meaning)? Do objective moral values exist (morality)? Where are we headed (destiny)? Rather than always being on the defensive and back foot, start asking these questions and (gently, with respect) perhaps begin to challenge the responses you get. Christians are not the only ones making claims.
    Bless you and may God strengthen you as you continue to be salt and light.
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Hi Troy!

Thank you so much for sharing. You are in such a unique position to share the love of Jesus. Praise God for your efforts.

I definitely agree that it can be draining when it seems that we are hitting a brick wall with evangelism and apologetics. A few things come to mind to remember:

  1. We should seek to operate out of the Lord’s strength and not our own. Sometimes if I’m especially tired, I’ll look back and realize that I was so prideful to think that I could enter the discussion armed with my research and knowledge. And I’m not proud to confess that sometimes I realized I didn’t even pray beforehand. Here, we should take a step back and realize who is on the throne of our hearts + seek to be motivated by Him alone

  2. You ask why it is so hard to defend truth. Remember we have an Enemy who is the father of lies that comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 8:44, 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8). He wants no more than to obscure the truth.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18

  1. Rest is found in Jesus. He doesn’t ask us to carry it all alone. May you find rejuvenation in your time with him.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:58

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9-10‬

Hope this helps a little bit Troy. Practically speaking, @clark.belle might be able to give some more perspective as she is in a similar line of work.

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@Malie Sure thing - may the Lord give you rest as you serve Him :slight_smile:

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Thanks everyone. These are all insightful answers.

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Hi Troy,

I can very much identify with your struggle in this area! I work in a similar profession as a massage therapist, working with a large number of elderly clients. At times I am in long-term facilities or the hospice setting. The nature of the work can be taxing when we truly care about our patients/clients. But the burden can feel even heavier when our colleagues/co-workers are added into the mix, and we are constantly rubbing shoulders with those who very much need Jesus, but are resisting Him for whatever reason.

I took the Core Module with the RZIM Academy last spring, and I have found it super helpful in learning to better engage with those around me, both patients and fellow-workers. I would encourage you to consider looking into that. I think it might prove helpful and encouraging for you as well. And everything that has been offered as advice in this thread is right on!!! I cannot say how much these responses encouraged my heart!

One thing that I do to “recover” from a particularly trying day, is to focus on Jesus and who He is. I have recently started memorizing scripture (I’m loving Philippians 2:5-11), and I am finding a lot of peace in pondering those words. I try to listen to music that reinforces what I am learning about/from Him, and at the moment I am kind of stuck on listing to Resurrection Letters Volume 1 by Andrew Peterson. I particularly love the song below, and have been drinking it in frequently.

I find that Jesus refreshes my soul as nothing else can. So the more weary I am, the more I need to press into who He is. He is hope! He is peace! He is joy! Hang in there dear brother! Your work is not in vain. Some of our most profound influence may never been seen by us this side of eternity. But our Abba is at work bringing many sons to glory! And He has invited us to share in His heart as He reaches to world who desperately needs Him! I pray you find your soul soon refreshed!

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Hi Troy, thanks for expressing what I am certain we all feel on occasion. Ravi taught that God allows us to use the mind he gave us — his first radio program was called “Let my people think”. Matt. 14:31 Jesus recognized our propensity to doubt.

What you are doing is the work of the sower. The sower moves along, he doesn’t stay in one spot and wait for the seeds to either grow or fail to grow. His work is to sow. God brings the rain and the sunshine.

So few of us, when sharing Jesus with others, are appointed to nurture just one seed. Even with our children, we sow seeds into their lives and then send them into the world.

One pastor, when asked “why did God bring this ___ to me?” Replied, “Why not you?” When Peter asked about the fate of John, Jesus said “…what is that to you?”

Rejoice always, give thanks always, in all things. As someone much wiser said, we carry burdens that are not ours to carry — and that means we are not available for God to use us in some other way.

Blessings!

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Hello,
There are very good responses here and they all offer very good advice to consider. In the midst of pain and suffering it is very difficult for people to respond to the notion that “God Loves You” if you are bitter or angry with life and what you may believe it has dealt you.
“If there is a God why does he let me suffer so?”. You get the idea I hope.

When a person begins to decline in mental ability, such as may happen with Dementia, it is very sad to see, especially when they are your loved ones. My Father is suffering this very disease and is now physically struggling. He is 91 and does not know why his hip pains him (he broke it 4 years ago in a fall and it has a prosthetic replacement installed) and yet he in times of pain says things like “I didn’t hurt anyone, why is this hurting?”. In my opinion he is unsaved although talks about Christ or used to, in a way that implied recognition of Christ as a good man but nothing more. Now I see his chances to be saved as almost completely gone and yet he spoke of Christ so much in his earlier years.
He is clearly struggling and its sad to see but I have to remind myself that he has had a life time of choices he has exercised in a myriad of circumstances. To assume he was never confronted with the gospel or church or religion of anyknind would be false. He is a product of his choices, as much as I wish he made different ones, he is what he chose to believe. His worldview, which includes a view of God and man is his view. Our worldview has consequences like it or not and it is tough when a loved one is negative towards God but they have had a life time of opportunity to investigate and come to know God if they wanted to.
Some people do come to the Lord late in life, but most who have rejected him throughout their life remain unsaved. This is sad but there is nothing we can do about that. We must remember that each human being is given free will to consider Christ. Romans chapter 1 is clear that in the inner man, there is a conscience that is designed to acknowledge God but by choice, men deny it. That is the Word of God stating a truth which is often unpaletable.
Apologetics is very wonderful thing and I enjoy it immensely but I have to remind myself it is not salvation through argument tool. It is only good to clear away shoddy thinking and then, only if the individual is truly seeking clarity. Salvation is a work of the Spirit.

We also often forget the first point of “giving an account”. Has there been a reason the person sees in you to ask you to give an account? Apologea is a court room defence. Has anyone made a charge on your life that need to give a defence of your faith? If people do not see Christ in us, the very best arguments and clear truthful answers to anything have little impact if the human heart remains hard and untouched. So the best you can do is to remain showing care and support to them. You must remind yourself that suffering is also part of the fall. When God made us it was “GOOD”. The fall has brought the curse of death on us via sin. Suffering is the result of the fall and it is hard to live with to be sure. When I go to see my father in his aged care home, there are man y sights that really remind you of how frail and weak mankind is and it is depressing at times. Seeing people cling to life with no hope but only fear in them is tough thing to deal with. I can only handle it myself by reminding myself that these people have had a long life and surely they had been given opportunity upon opportunity to see if God is real and he is caring. For those who are Christians in the aged care homes, their demeanour is so much better than those without Christ and it is so easy to see.
I have great respect for anyone who works in aged care and has remained in that industry for years.
My comments here may not deal exactly with being weary on Apologetics, which in your context I can understand but I hope they give some other points to consider about those you may be caring for but also for yourself.

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I understand, in a small scale, what you must endure. My in laws are living with me and one has pancreatic cancer and the other is in a hospital bed on oxygen with moderate dementia. My mom is suffering with atrial fibrillation. It is a tough situation, but it could be worse. All of us are believers. The best witness in these situations may be compassionate and loving care. Words cannot properly convey and ease the pain of certain situations. Words and logic, especially if they are unsolicited, may even increase the pain in these terribly troubling conditions.

Anitta, my thoughts were also going to the words of Paul when he said, “I sowed, Apollos watered, but it is God Who gives the increase (or the harvest).” So much of what we do is unknown to us and yet well known to our Heavenly Father, Troy. And in that there is also much rest. We are, indeed, HIS workmanship, just as the clay at the pottery studio I go to is the workmanship of whichever potter is using it or has purchased it. Sometimes it sits on the shelf in a bag for a long time, untouched, unmanipulated, and not in any way used, let alone into something useful or beautiful. It is the potter who determines all of that.

God is our potter, and He has incredible designs for our lives. Being faithful in long periods of “resting on the shelf” or in difficult periods of being in the hot kilns or waiting for the beauty that can only come through glazing is not easy. Yet I think of the years David spent being a shepherd, or even Moses for that matter. Solitude. Caring for animals that don’t make any human sense. Loneliness. Struggle. Desperation to find that next mouthful of grass or pool of water (as they were in very arid climates, not plush meadows and fields). Fights with wild animals that could most certainly end in his death and the death of all those animals.

I have felt that time was being wasted on me as there were not visible signs of change in myself or I was not making a difference in others whom I could see desperately needed it. I have come to realize that our Father’s time is indeed not our timing, and His is better. Keep resting in HIM. Trust that He is doing the work. Refresh your mind as others have said in memorizing His Word, keeping songs in your heart/mind, and marinating in Whom He is. May He encourage you today as you work so hard to help others. :pray: :yellow_heart: :pray:

Hello Ashton
I appreciate your thoughts and convictions. Especially the scripture you based them on. It was a blessing to be reminded that it truly is as 2Cor 5:18 says; It is all God’s work. It is good to be reminded that we cooperate with The Holy Spirit and that we are not the spirit. We are to radiate Gods glory, be His reflection as we preach Christ Jesus as Lord not ourselves.
We need to reflect often on who we are in Christ… image bearers, 2 Cor4:7 earthenware jars that hold this treasure to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us.
Your post helped remind me that We are called to a witness of Jesus and it’s not up to me to sway or convince anyone but rather like you said “Be” the love and compassion of Jesus. The apostle Paul did say if there is no love whatever is done is meaningless.
Thank you for sharing, you shared a powerful truth and I pray it touches many souls. You live under a conviction that places all trust in God’s powerful way of transforming a life. You will probably never know of the souls this touches until it is revealed to you in Eternity when you are face to face with Jesus and He says “ well done good and faithful servant”
Our hearts need to be set on following Jesus not running ahead of Him with our seemingly good agenda. Where He desires us to go He goes before us for His own loving purposes.
God bless you
Theresa

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Theresa,

Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m very thankful that the Spirit was working through me and helped me share some thoughtful words.

Ashton

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Thank you Clark for posting this song. It is incredibly beautiful and Biblically rich. I have never heard it before. It reminded me of Colossians which says …God wanted all perfection to be found in Christ and all things to be reconciled through Him.
Amazing song.
I pray it has touched many souls with God’s truth and love.
I was blessed reading your post. I’m certain your clients are blessed by not only the gift of your hands in massage but also your care for their soul.
You are a true witness of God’s grace
Blessings to you
Theresa