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
A lack of rest can have damaging effects on our marriages. It’s one of the ways the enemy seeks to devour and divide. When we feel the weight of carrying around our burdens, it can be difficult to do those things that God calls us to do. Our tempers are shorter, our ability to show grace shrinks, our capacity to love our spouse in a sacrificial way minimizes. When we’re exhausted or overwhelmed, our own needs take priority. We expect our spouses to consider our weariness and work to make our lives easier. Those expectations turn into demands and we find ourselves on that slippery slope into sin.
We need rest. In order to battle the enemy’s attacks on our marriage, we need the kind of deep soul rest promised in this passage. It is so critical to our well-being and our relationships that it should be the first piece of armor we put on in the battle. Without rest, we will struggle to put on any of the weapons because we are weak, but when we are rested, we find the courage and the strength to continue the fight.
The kind of rest referred to in these passages can only come from God. His peace comes from a deep-rooted Hope in knowing that despite what we see in front of us, we have the confidence He reigns over all. He promises that He is working for our good. Rest in our trials does not come when He takes our burden—though there is relief and cause for celebration when our trial ends, the kind of rest He offers here comes from the confident expectation that He is at work in all things. The key to finding that rest is the trust that He is good. You need to have a rock solid, foundational trust that He is good if you are ever to find the kind of rest that He offers when trials hit.
Life’s difficulties can catch us off guard, leaving us wondering if God is good. We are often puzzled over how a frustrating, hurtful, or shocking development in our lives could possibly contribute to anything good. The problem is we’re focused on us and our limited ability to change the current situation. We need to stop looking at the circumstance, and get our eyes back on God. If He isn’t going to use this circumstance for your good, it wouldn’t have happened. He has to sign off on every single thing that touches your life. That’s not to say He wanted it—God is not the cause of evil—but He is the solution. He’s the chess master who takes every move we make and strategizes the next move to ensure His purposes are accomplished. I think one of the mistakes Christians make is to interpret “good” as God’s just going to work things out for them. God will heal them, or will dump a pile of money in their lap, or fix whatever the problem is that they’re facing. While God could do any of those things, those Christians end up sadly disappointed when God doesn’t present them with the good they’re looking for. God isn’t our genie in a bottle and His “good” is not your happiness. The good He’s after is to grow us to be more like Christ. His love is a perfecting love, not a pampering love.
Sometimes we are stuck in trials because of sin in our lives that we may or may not see, and God will allow the consequences of our sin to happen in order to reveal or remove the temptation from our hearts. And sometimes, God wants to grow our ability to love other people. In order to do that, He needs to soften our self-focused hearts by allowing us to walk through some difficult trials because when we do, our compassion and our love for others changes and grows in ways we can’t possibly grow without enduring the trial on our own. We don’t understand what it means to be diagnosed with cancer until we have been, to lose a loved on until we’ve lost one, to love someone trapped in addiction until we’ve experienced it, to have a prodigal child until we watch them walk away. God is growing you through your trial. He is conforming you to the image of Christ. Oh, that the world would be filled with people who are more and more like Christ, with soft and compassionate hearts that truly understand and care for one another.
When suffering enters our lives, it can be so hard to remember this truth, but everything He allows into our lives is for the ultimate good. Every single thing. Every blessing, every challenging moment, every difficult person, every heartbreaking loss, every deep trial. It’s all for our good. As sinful people, we have such a tendency to point our finger at the situation or the other person when trials come. We want Him to heal our loved one, fix the other person, mend the relationship, make our lives easier. But that’s not the good God has for us in our trials. Suffering is a call to put our trust in Him and not in the things of this world. It’s an opportunity to grow our faith in the one true King who stands sovereign over all. It is a time for us to repent and turn from treasuring anything on earth above God. It’s an opportunity for Him to refine us and grow us to be more like Him—that’s why He suggests gentleness and humility as a way to lighten our load. When those challenging moments in life come, don’t simply pray them away. Lean in and ask Him how He wants you to grow. Far too often we get in the way of that work by focusing our prayers on how we want the situation resolved—our plan gets in the way of His plan, and it blocks the good He has for us.
Anyone who has been through a deep valley and rested on the promises of God has likely found and embraced the truths in Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. These words should be the anchor that holds you to God when your heart has been shattered and chaos surrounds you. The greatest of challenges and deepest of conflicts can be overcome when these truths are stored in your heart. We find true comfort and the peace that surpasses all understanding when we trust these words are true. He is good. Every believer strong in their faith has confidence in this truth to their core. He is good. You must start there. You need to *know* that He is good—you need to believe it deep in your soul, and when you do, you learn you can face any struggle this world presents to you. He works everything for His good—a struggling marriage, addiction, sexual sin, depression, health issues, relational conflict, prodigal children, grief, anxiety—He will use it all for good. He will change you and transform you if you begin to surrender and stop fighting the suffering, but instead trust that He is good in the suffering. Refuse to look at the problems you are facing as something you just want to go away, and start asking what He wants you to learn in this suffering.
So many times I’ve gone through the deep valleys, I’ve turned to that verse. I love the comfort that it provides. The words “we know” in particular bring me such peace—that’s where we find His rest. I don’t just hope or wonder if He will bring good out of my trials, I can know that’s what He is doing. Even when it doesn’t make any sense to me at all, even when it causes my heart to ache, I can know that He has a plan in it all and it is ultimately for my good. His ultimate plan in our lives is to conform us to the image of His Son, and for that to happen, He needs to reveal to us all those parts of our hearts that are hidden from Him, or are not yet fully submitted. He allows trials into our lives to bring into the light the places in our hearts that we still hold on to, where our idols have a stronghold, or where sin remains hidden. It’s in the brokenness in our lives when our eyes are opened and our heart is revealed. And that is for our good because when our sin is revealed, and we confess and repent, we grow to be more like Him.
The kind of rest referred to in this verse comes from an unshakable faith that God is allowing all things in your life for good. When you believe that to your very core, you will feel the weight of all the burdens you endure lifted from your shoulders—not just lifted for the moment, but lifted in a way that allows you to see the beauty of what He is doing behind the trial. When our burdens are lifted, we find the strength to fight for our marriages in this heavily-burdened world.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗