Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
“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.”
All Who Labor
There are many reasons we can be heavy laden or burdened or weighted-down from labor (toiling, working with effort of body and mind) to the point of exhaustion, of being worn-out, and of being depleted physically and mentally and emotionally of all energy, and to be in need of rest. As a woman who was once a young mother of four, there were four perfectly good reasons right there. Life as a young mother can be very tiring.
Another reason may be if you have a physical handicap and so any amount of physical labor will wear you out. I am there, so I understand this in a way I never did before. I have to stop and rest in between just about every strenuous activity or I don’t make it to the next one. And if I don’t rest then my pain level increases tremendously. And if my pain level increases, especially since I do not take medication, then that can hinder productivity.
Or you may have a job which is physically strenuous and so when you finish your day you must rest so that you can make it through the next day and the next. And these are just some of the reasons why we might be there.
But then there are non-physical reasons such as worrying, fearing, not trusting in the Lord, and taking matters into your own hands to “help God out,” etc. Or you may be someone who is trying to earn God’s approval through human effort and not through surrendering your life to Jesus Christ via trusting in his strength and wisdom. And this could be because you are still holding on to sin and so you are trying to be good enough on your own.
And then I think of the Apostle Paul and what he said:
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Now this was beyond their control. Paul had people who tried to put him to death, who stoned him and left him for dead, and he was beaten, and falsely imprisoned, and was whipped with lashes, beaten with rods, and he suffered shipwreck, and many other physical attacks against his body. Plus he was persecuted verbally, and he had people lying about him and trying to destroy his reputation, and some of this happened while he was in prison.
And then I think, too, of Job, and how Satan killed off his servants and his animals and his children and then he attacked Job physically will all sorts of sores all over his body. And while he was in pain and was suffering the agony of all of that, his friends were accusing him falsely of sinning against the Lord, and they said that is why he was suffering as he was. And even though he tried to explain the truth to them they would not listen, and they continued to attack him. And that would be enough to exhaust anyone.
And then one more thing. We can be weighed down with sin because we are trying to go it alone without God and we are following our flesh instead of the Spirit. And that weight is never going to be lifted unless we give it up and we lay it aside and we don’t take it up again, but then we follow our Lord in obedience to his commands. And then we can run the race he has marked out for us to run in this life (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Rest for Your Souls
So, we can be heavy laden (exhausted, worn-out) from many different things, some of which we do have control over and some of which we don’t. But the rest that this is talking about is not physical rest, though we do need that, too, and it is important that we get that when we can, when it is needed, even if it is just a few minutes here and a few minutes there. Our bodies need physical rest, but too much rest is not healthy, either.
But this is speaking of rest for our souls. So if we are exhausted physically because of a strenuous job, or because we are raising young children, or because we are being persecuted, or because of a physical handicap or an illness or an injury, or for other reasons, this also affects us mentally and emotionally. I definitely get more emotional when I am physically tired. I cry more easily. And then I know that I need not only more physical rest, but I need to rest in my Lord and in his strength.
For it is in times like these when Satan will attack us in our minds and in our emotions and we won’t have the defenses we might normally have when we are more well rested. And so especially in such times as these we need to go to him to find rest for our souls, for our inner being. And we need to cry it out to the Lord, if need be, and talk it through with him in his word and in prayer. And then we need to trust him to work it all out for our good.
And this is what it means to take God’s yoke upon us. It means we relinquish control over our own lives to God and we let him have his way in our lives, and we trust in his sovereignty, and we believe that he is absolutely in control over everything in our lives. And then we let him guide us in the way that we ought to go, and we rely on his strength, which we absolutely don’t have, and then we just obey him.
Boy I can tell you of so many times that I sat down to write and had nothing to offer at all and God just took over. I would sit in front of the computer with my fingers on the keyboard but I had absolutely nothing to give other than to just rest in Jesus. And then he just poured it into me. And when I got done writing I definitely knew that only happened by the grace of God. Now he guides me in all that I write, I believe, but sometimes it is when I am just not there physically or mentally that he just creates a miracle.
But now let’s talk about those who are weighed down with sin. You will never know peace and freedom in your spirit until you surrender it all to the Lord Jesus and you take his yoke upon you and you let him have control over your life and then you do as he says. And this has nothing to do with trying to earn or to deserve your own salvation. This is Jesus working out your salvation in and through your life as you yield to his control (Php 2:12-13).
So, if you want to know peace, and if you want to find rest, then you must surrender your all to Jesus Christ and let him lead you where he wants you to go. And the burden will be light because he will be carrying the weight of it. Doing God’s will is not heavy labor. Walking in sin is heavy labor and you will never find rest now or in the life ever after if you continue in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord. So, give your all to him, and find rest.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Be with Me, Lord
By Thomas O Chisholm
Be with me, Lord – I cannot live without THEE,
I dare not try to take one step alone.
I cannot bear the loads of life, unaided,
I need THY strength to lean myself upon.
Be with me Lord, and then if dangers threaten,
If storms of trial burst above my head,
If lashing seas leap ev’rywhere about me,
They cannot harm, or make my heart afraid.
Be with me Lord! No other gift or blessing
THOU COULDST bestow could with this one compare –
A constant sense of THY abiding presence,
Where’er I am, to feel that THOU ART near.
Be with me, Lord, when loneliness o’ertakes me,
When I must weep amid the fires of pain,
And when shall come the hour of “my departure”
For “worlds unknown,” O Lord, be with me then.
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