“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
I recently meditated on these words of Jesus in my morning devotions. They are good news for any of us who ever feel stressed, stretched, anxious, weighed down, nervous, overtaxed, overloaded, or whatever word we use to describe ourselves when we don’t think we can handle life. I think that’s all of us.
After thanking His Father that he has hidden the truths of the kingdom from “the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children,” Jesus describes a problem, a promise, and a path.
The problem is universal. We labor and are heavy laden. For whatever reason, life is becoming increasingly difficult. Sure, we’re trying, but not making much progress. The kids still aren’t obeying, your schedule is still jam-packed, the boss can’t be pleased, everyone wants something from you, and no one notices your Herculean efforts to hold everything together.
In the midst of our struggles, Jesus promises rest for our souls. I don’t think many people in our society experience the kind of rest Jesus promises, although everyone wants it. We pursue it in all the wrong places – sports, recreation, possessions, computers, TV and movies – and end up as empty and troubled as when we began our search.
We can all identify with the problem, and are eager to enjoy the promised relief. However, few of us are willing to submit to the path Jesus lays out. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”
In essence, Jesus says, “Become like me – gentle and humble.” The road to inner peace involves acknowledging that the root of our turmoil and stress is not other people, but our demanding pride. We insist we can handle our problems on our own. We’ll endure the stress if we can just get the credit. We avoid all blame and just hope this season, too, shall pass.
There’s only one problem. If the situation changes, God will be faithful to provide another one that exposes our self-sufficiency. He doesn’t want us to prove we can make it on our own, but that we are utterly dependent on Him. He won’t give rest to those who seek it apart from the Savior.
So if you’re feeling weighed down by life, take on the yoke of the Savior – gentleness and humility of heart. He is not only our best example for it, but our only source for it. Think of others more highly than yourself. Seek counsel and help from those around you. Serve the needs of others. Confess your sinful desire to impress. Acknowledge your weaknesses, and trust God for strength to complete your responsibilities with joy and faith.
And experience the Savior’s easy yoke and light burden. It’s his promise to those who realize they are but little children in the care of their gracious heavenly Father.