“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Jesus (as quoted by Matthew 11:28-30)
This verse is a troubling verse. I don’t know what your life has been like since you became a Christian (if you are one), but my life didn’t seem to become easy or light. Life seemed to get harder. The more and more I work to obey what I believe is true, the more and more resistance I encounter. Some days I just want to give up. Jesus promised that things would not be good for us, because things weren’t good for Him. (John 15:20)
So what is this apparent nonsense about an easy yoke and a light burden? Was Jesus just sugar coating things so we wouldn’t completely give up? And to answer that, we need to look at the alternatives.
What satisfies us? Is it really ever the same today as it was yesterday, or this year the same as last year? By that I mean, we might pursue the same things, but not the same amounts. Isn’t how much we’re pursuing always changing?
This isn’t about being greedy or selfish or stingy or anything about that. There’s no judgment call on it at all. Just in general, in every area of life, we generally think we would be satisfied with more of everything than not. More money, more influence, more success, more power, more respect, more relationships, more sex, more safety, more food, more whatever. Fill in the blank for whatever you’re pursuing. In almost all cases, we would be happier if we had woken up with more of it.
What you’re pursuing is irrelevant. It could be good, bad or indifferent. The object of your pursuit is not at issue. It’s your pursuit. Whatever you’re chasing will always find a way to outrun you. You will always be in pursuit.
I’m not a runner. I only run when something scary is chasing me. But one thing I know about running is this: it is exhausting. So why are you spending your whole life running? You’re spending your whole life running after something and yet you wonder why you’re so exhausted. It doesn’t even matter if you’re pursuing something good, your pursuit is what is exhausting.
This is what Jesus’ promise about a light burden is all about. You can finally stop running.
Jesus’ rest is different than any other kind of rest. The only way you can get real rest is if you decide that you can trust everything you’re chasing to Jesus. Do you trust that He is Almighty God, powerful to do anything … including allowing bad things to happen and redeeming them later? Do you trust that He is Abba Father, the loving Father that will do what’s good for you, even if it doesn’t seem good?
One of my favorite CS Lewis quotes is: “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” This is exactly the reason why. If we try to find our peace and happiness in what we pursue, we never will because we will always want something more or something else.
The only rest that exists is rest in the Lord. Trust that He can do all things, and that He will do all things for our good. That doesn’t mean that all things will be good, just that we can trust Him to make it good like only He can.
Rest in that trust. It’s the only rest you will ever find, for He cares for you.