28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30
I love that the invitation in these verses is for everyone. Come to me ALL - there are no exceptions to that invite, it’s for every one of us who labor or are heavily burdened. It’s for you. It’s for me. When Jesus issues that directive, He is not anticipating a fractional response. He’s expecting every one of us who struggle under the weight of our trials to come to Him. When it’s too much to carry on our own, He says come to me.
We labor when we work, and so the first group invited are those who are physically tired from work. We’ve all been there, some of us far too often. It’s the fatigue that comes at the end of a day of work, after managing our hectic schedules, when we just want to plop ourselves on the couch, put our feet up, and turn on the TV. Sadly, it’s also the exhaustion that causes us to snap when someone asks us to do something as we’re heading to the couch, that makes us grumble when we realize we can’t hit the couch just yet, or that keeps us from doing those God honoring things He wants us to do - spend time in His Word, attend small group, or serve others. But we deserve to rest after all we’ve done today, after all we’ve taken, with what we’re going through, after the fact that we didn’t sleep last night...don’t we? Oh, my friends, how much of the physical tiredness that comes from our labor is the result of our own doing?
The second group invited are those who are heavily ladened. Beyond those who just cannot find the physical energy at the end of the day, are those whose souls are loaded with the weight of an emotional trial. Far greater than the physical tiredness that comes from working a long day, is the exhaustion that comes from carrying around our burdens and trials. Physical exhaustion can be relieved from a night or two of good sleep, the kind of weariness that comes from our emotional burdens cannot be relieved so easily. These are, by far, our heaviest burdens...a prodigal child, a difficult diagnosis, losing a job or your home, the end of a marriage, or the death of someone you love. These are the burdens that are so heavy and all consuming that it’s hard to even think about anything else, much less serve someone else. It’s all about me right now. These trials can also become the reason we play the victim, snap about what we deserve, struggle to show grace for others. Have you ever been carrying the weight of a heavy burden when you heard somebody else complain about what you consider to be an insignificant by comparison? We lack the capacity to encourage others in their trials when we are so focused on our own burdens because we have simply exhausted our minds with the fear, the anxiety, the grief, and the despair that accompanies our trials. We don’t want to do anything other than focus on our problem until it gets better or goes away. If we’re being honest, we’ve all been there. When we encounter those challenging seasons of difficult trials, we pull back from everything that requires any energy at all from us - small group, quiet time, fellowship, serving, work, and we focus all of our energy on our trial. My friends, how much of our energy is drained, how much of the heavy burden that we carry is because of where we set our minds in these trials?
How many of the things that He calls us to do, are we failing to do because of the weight of our labor or because we are so heavily ladened? Our trials are our trials because of how we carry them, aren’t they? Think about it - we let them consume us, filling our minds and sapping all our energy. We just don’t want to deal with anything else, we want the focus of every conversation to be about what we’re going through, or we want to drop everything and shut off our minds in front of the TV, Pinterest, or Facebook. So when God calls us to do something, we say no thanks - we have too much on our plate already. We need to rest.
We are to go to Him when we are exhausted. He offers the kind of rest we can only know in His presence. It’s a beautiful, sweet kind of rest that is only found in His presence. I hope you are intimate with the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding in the face of a huge trial, but even those of us who know His peace well, can get caught by the weight of our burdens. The question is, when it’s too much to carry, do we go to Him? Or do we try to manage it on our own? Even greater than the question of whether or not we go to Him, is the question of WHY we go to Him. Do we go to Him to just dump our burdens? Honestly, that’s been my problem through the years...when I feel overwhelmed, I do go to Him, and I’m even getting pretty good at going to Him fairly soon in a trial. It doesn’t take long for me to end up on my knees, dropping the weight of my burdens at His feet. The problem for me has been the WHY I go to Him. While I do find His peace temporarily as I sit in His presence, the truth is the peace never lasts. We are told in this passage HOW to find the peace that lasts - we aren’t just supposed to be dumping our trials when we come to Him with them. We are supposed to be learning from Him HOW we carry the burdens so we don’t end up so exhausted.
Again, I want to continue on in these verses, and reflect on the instruction He has for us on how we should carry our burdens, but this post is already long enough. For now, I’ve been spending time really thinking about why I end up so exhausted in my burdens. If you look hard enough and with Him, you will find the root of those reasons is not God honoring.
Before I go, a little personal reflection.... I am so guilty of all those scenarios above, even and especially in this diagnosis. In my head, I don’t want it to be all about me, but my heart still struggles to get away from the trial I’m going through and put others’ needs before my own. But that’s what He calls us to do. I’m so thankful for a church that speaks His truth into our hearts and helps us to see the deception that lives there, but even more grateful for a God that continues to pursue us with a steadfast love and doesn’t just leave us in my trials, but uses them to expose the dark places of self-absorption hidden in our hearts. So much of the weight we carry is because of the way we carry our burdens, my friends. Looking forward to diving further into these rich verses tomorrow.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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