Devotion #84

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.

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I love that the invitation in these verses is for everyone. Come to me ALL – there are no exceptions to that invite, it’s for every one of us who labor or are heavily burdened. It’s for you, it’s for me, it’s for our spouses. When Jesus issued that directive, He wasn’t anticipating a fractional response. He expects every one of us who struggle under the weight of our trials to come to Him. When it’s too much to carry on our own, Jesus says come to me.

We labor when we work, and so the first group invited are those who are physically tired from work. We’ve all been there, some of us far too often. It’s the fatigue that comes at the end of a long day, after managing our hectic schedules. It’s when we just want to plop ourselves on the couch, put our feet up, and turn on the TV. It’s that same physical exhaustion that causes us to snap at our spouses when they ask us to do something as we’re headed to the couch or that makes us grumble when we realize we are far from the rest we desire. Maybe we didn’t sleep last night, or maybe our joints are sore from getting older…whatever the reason we feel physically exhausted, we consider it our right to demand a pass from our spouses until we get the rest we desire. Sadly, it’s the same physical exhaustion that gives us an excuse not to do those very things He wants us to do so He can strengthen us—spending time in His Word, attending church, or serving others. Have you considered how much of the physical tiredness that comes from your labor is the result of your own doing?

The second group invited are those who are heavily ladened. Beyond those who just cannot find the physical energy at the end of the day, are those whose souls are loaded with the weight of an emotional trial. Far greater than the physical tiredness that comes from working a long day, is the exhaustion that comes from carrying around our burdens and trials. Physical exhaustion can be relieved from a night or two of good sleep, the kind of weariness that comes from our emotional burdens cannot be relieved so easily. These are, by far, our heaviest burdens; a prodigal child, a difficult diagnosis, losing a job or your home, a struggling marriage, or the death of someone you love. These are the burdens that are so heavy and all-consuming that it’s hard to even think about anything else, much less serve someone else. It’s all about me right now. In our marriages, these trials can become the reason we play the victim, snap about what we deserve, struggle to show grace. Have you ever been carrying the weight of a heavy burden when you hear your spouse complain about what you consider to be insignificant by comparison? We snap. We lack the capacity to love others well when we are so focused on our own burdens because our minds are exhausted from carrying around the fear, the anxiety, the grief, and the despair that accompany our trials. We don’t want to do anything other than focus on our problem until it gets better or goes away. If we’re being honest, we’ve all been there. When we encounter those challenging seasons of difficult trials, we pull back from everything that requires any energy at all from us—church, quiet time, fellowship, serving, work, and we focus all of our energy on our trial. Have you considered how much of the heavy burden you carry is because of where you set your minds in your trials? 

How many of the things that He calls us to do, are we failing to do because of the weight of our physical or emotional exhaustion? We set our own schedules, then we use our busyness as an excuse not to spend time with Him. We let our trials consume our minds and we use our mental exhaustion as an excuse not to bring our thoughts obedient to Christ. Our trials are our trials because of how we choose to carry them. Think about it—we let them consume us, filling our minds and sapping all our energy. So, when God calls us to do something for our spouses, to serve them or show them grace, we say no thanks—we have too much on our plate already. We need to rest.

We are to go to Him when we are exhausted. He offers the kind of rest we can only know in His presence. It’s a beautiful, sweet kind of rest that is only found in His presence. I hope you are intimate with the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding in the face of a huge trial, but even those of us who know His peace well can get caught by the weight of our burdens. The question is, when it’s too much to carry, do we go to Him? Or do we try to manage it on our own? Even greater than the question of whether or not we go to Him, is the question of why we go to Him. Do we go to Him to just dump our burdens? Honestly, that’s been my problem through the years. When I feel overwhelmed, I do go to Him, and I’m even getting pretty good at going to Him fairly soon in a trial. It doesn’t take long for me to end up on my knees, dropping the weight of my burdens at His feet. The problem for me has been the why I go to Him. While I do find His peace temporarily as I sit in His presence, the truth is the peace never lasts when I just dump. We are told in this passage how to find the peace that lasts. We aren’t just supposed to be dumping our trials when we come to Him with them. We are supposed to be learning from Him how we carry the burdens so we don’t end up feeling so exhausted.

If you find yourself snapping at your spouse because you are exhausted—physically or emotionally, pause and reflect. Think about why you are exhausted. You set your schedule, you choose what you think about. Dig deep to the root of the reason you feel so tired, and stop using that exhaustion as an excuse for your behavior or why you don’t have quiet time with Him every day. If you look hard enough with Him at those roots, you’ll find where you have put yourself before God. Go to Him with your burdens and repent of those all that He reveals to you and you will begin to find His rest.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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