Journal Entry ~ 10/29/17

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

Jesus offers us rest when we’ve had too much, when we’re exhausted, overworked, and burdened. He doesn’t tell us to get our act together first, He doesn’t expect us to fix our problems, He simply says come to me and I will give you rest. So many of us come and find that rest in Him, but the rest is temporary. As soon as we leave His presence, we find we’ve picked our burdens right back up and are carrying them around again. For us to experience the kind of rest that lasts, He offers us a lesson in how to carry our burdens - He suggests we carry our burdens as He does, with gentleness and humility, and we will discover our burdens become easier to carry.  When we carry burdens that involve other people, we lighten our burden when we carry them with gentleness. When we carry burdens ourselves, we lighten our burden when we carry them with humility. 

Humility is a low view of oneself, to be humble is to be meek. In today’s culture, humility or meekness is viewed as a sign of weakness, but it is often quite the opposite. To be meek or humble requires a great deal of strength. It doesn’t mean demeaning yourself or putting yourself down, for that is still a focus on yourself. Humility is not about making the least of yourself so much as it is making the most of others. 

Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride destroys relationships. It causes us to feel more entitled than we are, and to be more demanding over than choosing to serve others. Pride insists on control and that your way is right. Humble is how I relate to or see myself in comparison to others, it’s my expectations, how I want to be thanked, how I want to be viewed, how I want to be treated.Those are not things Jesus ever carries, that’s why his yoke is light. Jesus never demanded to be treated a certain way, He was humble. 

So, when we’re in a trial that primarily involves ourselves and no one else, we are to take on an attitude of humility, we are to lower ourselves and raise up others. Perhaps you are struggling with an overwhelming or exhausting schedule, maybe you’ve wrestled with depression or anxiety in your life, you may have chronic health issues or a difficult diagnosis, or perhaps there is a significant change you’d like to see in your life, such as a marriage or children, perhaps you are grieving the loss of a dear loved one - these are trials we carry with ourselves. 

When we walk through a difficult trial by ourselves, we can get very *me* focused. Our minds become a swirl of what ifs and emotions, and it can become difficult to process anything outside of our own thoughts. When our trials are significant or painful, others will even be drawn into our little world with their compassion - we will find ourselves the focus of other people’s attention. We can get used to people checking in on us, asking how we’re doing, serving us and showering us with encouraging notes and texts, making meals, bringing us gifts. While it is true we need the strength of others to face the significant trials in our lives, and those meals and encouraging texts can become our very lifelines when we’re in the depth of a pit, we must remain aware there is a danger that comes when every conversation is lopsided and the continual focus is us. Attention is addicting. In the midst of all our self-focus, we need to take our eyes off ourselves and focus it back on others. This is humility - making the most of others. 

I remember years ago when I was deep in a difficult trial, someone taught this lesson to me. They suggested to me that the quickest way to end the trial was to focus all of my energy on serving others. You see, when we are deep in a difficult trial, when so much of our energy is focused just on ourselves, our problems are magnified. Our knee jerk reaction is to pull all resources being given to others and keep them all to ourselves. When a trial hits, we have a tendency to shrink back from everything - we not only find it difficult to participate in those disciplines we know bring us life - like small group, church, quiet time - we also don’t have the energy to take the phone call from another friend in need, or meet someone for coffee who wants to talk. We just want it to be about us. We run to the corner and we nurse our wounds in isolation. The only people we want to let in are those who are going to let us wallow in self-pity. 

In that trial, I thought how could I possibly have the energy to do for anyone else when I’ve got so much on my own plate, trying to manage my already busy schedule, and this trial on top of it??  But I heeded their advice, and I intentionally looked for ways to serve others.  It wasn’t long before I discovered the quickest way to minimize our problems was to magnify others. That’s worth repeating - the quickest way to minimize the trials we’re in is to start serving others. If we want the kind of rest that is lasting, the kind of peace that Jesus offers, we need to get the focus off of ourselves and spend our energy serving others.

Is your schedule too overwhelming or demanding?  Clear a spot to serve others - and don’t make it about serving your family because that’s most likely what has been filling your schedule. Serve somebody else. Is anxiety or depression taking over your thoughts?  Go serve the homeless. Do you have a chronic illness or difficult diagnosis?  Go serve that community. Get the focus off of you, and onto others, and watch your trials shrink. 

I’ve been overwhelmingly blessed in this diagnosis with people wanting to serve me. Seriously, I’ve been blown away at how many beautiful people I have in my life. But it’s true - it can get very *me* focused when faced with a trial like this. While I have found so much strength in the constant encouragement I have received from others, there is a tendency to want to draw others into my well of self-pity. I have to fight that urge every day. I’ve been blessed to have had encounters with others walking this same path as me, who have found ways to serve others even as they struggle deep in their own trial, and been touched and inspired by their humility. Keeping my eyes open for how God wants to use me in this trial to bless others. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗


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