If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. (Proverbs 24:10—NKJV)

With the days of summer come fond memories of childhood. Who can forget the lazy summer days spent in the hammock reading an adventure story of derring-do? There was always a hero who rose to the forefront to lead brave men. There was always a crisis to be overcome that would melt lesser men. There was always a clear victory where depth of character overcame the evil enemy to win the day. The hero always rose above the morass of the mundane and the undertow of discouragement. There was never any truce of coexistence between victory and faintheartedness. Our verse is the “stuff” of heroes.

Faintness is descriptive of dimness, fading, and indistinction. It is this quality that allows “faint” to describe weakness, faltering, and feebleness. The feelings of exhaustion and weakness are also emblematic of losing courage and spirit, of temerity and cowardliness. When a person faints, the room spins, the eyesight dims and the person loses consciousness. Fainting may be symptomatic of fear, panic, sickness or weariness. The outcome of the body letting the man down is often haunting fear.

The fainting heart is addressed in the Bible. There are three words in the Greek language employed to describe it. The first is ekluo, to loose, release (literally, a compound of “out of” and “loose”). It is like our term “to dissolve,” something like the stitches doctors use to hold a wound together to heal and then they dissolve over time. It means to grow weary and to fade. Our Lord uses this term when he describes the hungry and weary crowds in Matthew 15:32 and Mark 8:3. It is used of the believer’s soul growing faint because of persecution (Hebrews 12:3) and because of the chastening hand of God (verse 5), “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged [to loosen out] in your souls…. My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.”

The second word is enkakew, meaning to lack courage, lose heart, to fail and to give out. When discouragements pile up, weigh heavily on the heart, and sap the soul of energy, then the person finds himself in a bad humor (the Greek compound word means “in” plus “bad”). The parable our Lord teaches in Luke 18 and following begins with these words, “Then He spoke a parable to them that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” There follows the story of the widow seeking help from an unjust judge. Talk about a discouraging situation! Paul uses the term in Ephesians 3:13, “Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory” and 2 Corinthians 4:1 and 16, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Paul also uses the word in 2 Thessalonians 3:13, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in well doing.”

The third word is kamno, meaning to work and the weariness that overcomes the body, to be hot and labor to the point of fatigue. It is also illustrative of the weariness that burdens someone who is sick, when stamina is failing, when the body is laboring to get well, and when the body grows heavy with weakness. It is the first word describing “weariness” in Hebrews 12:3. It is also found in James 5:15 and Revelation 2:3.

As our text from Proverbs 24:10 reminds us, our strength is measured by our weakness. Turn your eyes and your heart to the words of Isaiah 40:28–29, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak [weary], and to those who have no might He increases strength.” Verse 31 promises, “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength.”

Galatians 6:9 reads, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart [lose intensity as in loosening a bow].” If you are sensing creeping weariness, your heart is growing feeble, and you see that the testing is measuring your spiritual stamina, then remember that Christ has been there before you (Hebrews 12:3), wait in the Lord (Isaiah 40:31), and pursue renewal in the Lord every day (2 Corinthians 4:16). 1 Peter 1:13 states, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Trust and obey.