In several recent conversations, I’ve heard a pretty broad cross section of people describing just how wearisome and complicated their lives have become over the past few months, and especially as we now head into the school season and increased responsibilities for many families. Unquestionably, the lingering issues of covid 19 have contributed greatly to the daily burdens of most people and made what used to be relatively simple and somewhat straightforward practices, such as grocery shopping or visiting with family, complicated and often a difficult exercise.
There has also been additional stress for those in businesses who have been trying to sustain their livelihood and many more are facing the possibility of future job cuts and other loss of income if severe regulations are not somewhat relaxed in the near future.
The absence of being able to meet freely in our churches has taken away one of the lifelines of encouragement and support for many people and in additional ways, limitations on support group meetings and other fellowship gatherings has also added to our personal burdens.
That’s why the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28 are so important in times like this. Jesus knew what we would face in life and how circumstances can many times become wearisome and even on occasion too heavy to bear. That’s where Jesus said these simple words, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The Passion Translation adds to our understanding as it translates this verse, “I will refresh your life, I will give you rest, I am your oasis on this journey.”
That is the literal interpretation of the word in the Aramaic or spoken Greek language of the day. That is the physical image that people would get when Jesus said these words to them.
But this is not simply a matter of pausing in your day and acknowledging your need for God’s help. Jesus is a bit more specific in Matthew 11:29. He says, “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.” That is translated in The Passion Translation as, “Simply join your life with mine, learn my ways, and you will discover I am gentle and easy to please… you will find rest and refreshment in me.”
See, the answer here to our sense of weariness, struggle, and inadequacy is not “an answer,” not a simple way out, but rather it is finding life in close friendship with Jesus!
The image of being yoked, which is the word that we see used here most often, is not as common to us today as the phrase “simply join your life with mine,” but the meaning is the same. What happens with our problems, our burdens and our weariness is that when we’re joined in life with Jesus and learning from Him, we begin to trade our self-consciousness for Christ-consciousness. It’s not that our burdens and difficulties suddenly vanish, but we do find a different source of strength, a refreshing of the soul and ultimately the spirit, and oftentimes even the physical and mental sharpening that relieves the burden that we’ve been unable to carry.
What also happens if we take these simple steps is that the reality of God’s sovereignty in our lives begins to become more clear to us. God promises to “work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose,” and in point of fact, we begin to see the burdens and the daily routines not as obstacles, but as potential pipelines of the strength of God at work in our lives. Just the realization that God is at work in these things can turn difficult days into times of outright celebration because we recognize that God has never left us alone and is in fact making us stronger as we press through whatever is in our path.
The simple secret to this is to come to Jesus as He invites you to do and begin to praise Him in the middle of whatever it is you’re facing. Praise has the power to break down strongholds, to release limitations and to change circumstances that we cannot imagine. When we come to Jesus and begin to let His life flow through us, praise comes from us that we didn’t even know existed and it becomes a mighty weapon that releases the power of God to carry us through whatever it is that we might be facing.
In these challenging days, friends, hear the inviting words of Jesus saying, “Come to me. I am your oasis on this journey.”