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A brief glance across the office. Everyone’s working hard—but on what? They seem to know exactly what to do, laser-sharp vision guiding them. But her vision feels…blurry. In the worst moments, insecurity taunts, “They should hire someone else,” its weight pressing down and paralyzing her.

Tomorrow will be better, she promises herself. Tomorrow, I’ll do better. I have to.

And the pressure increases.

****

The disease has sucked from him all semblance of vigor. People are compassionate, yes, and they rise up to carry his burdens, those expectations of family life he can no longer meet. The better days are…better—but they aren’t great. Failure looms. Do people understand, especially the ones living in the same house? Will the ongoing disappointment wear down his good intentions to try harder, to be more?

But he can’t be more. It’s not physically possible. No matter how hard he tries.

****

Basketball used to be fun, but not now. Not for a long time. The increasing lust for victory, and the judgment from higher-ups, sucked the joy from it. He can’t remember the last time he played for the sake of the game. Freshman year?

That was before he knew he was gifted.

****

Another all-nighter. As bad as she was feeling before, now she feels even worse. The ringing in her ears. Spaces out again. What did the professor say? If she doesn’t ace the final, she won’t earn the grade everyone expects. Her family. The medical schools she’s applied to. Herself.

Why didn’t she decide to be a teacher? Or an artist? Why didn’t she take time off to travel?

Daydreams. A deep breath. The fresh air of freedom as she cruises down Route 66…

****

A man, hardly clothed, gasping for air upon a wooden cross. He’s exposed and vulnerable, sinking lower by the minute from gravity’s merciless pull. The pressure of the nails. The weight of labored breathing. The spit and cursing of onlookers.

Bearing our failures in his body on the tree.

This is divine intervention. Wrath-absorption. Sin’s just condemnation. For the paranoid worker, the defeated father, the jaded athlete, the anxious pupil. The Son of God becomes failure—sin—and the Father turns his face away.

Disapproval. Rejection. But not for long.

****

An empty tomb. The victory of divine approval. The success of total acceptance. Freedom from the tyranny of failure’s patronizing whispers, freedom from its slavish hold.

And an invitation. “Come to me,” he beckons. “I will give you rest.”

Kristen Wetherell

Kristen Wetherell is a wife, mother, and writer. She is the author of Fight Your Fears: Trusting the Character and Promises of God When You Are Afraid (Bethany House) and the co-author of the award-winning book Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company).