God Will Give Us Rest

Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.

—Matthew 11:28-29

Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt overwhelmed by the things of this world? When life seemed so hard and no matter what you did, things just wouldn’t go right? Deep soul weariness: We all experience it, though in different ways and for different reasons.

Sometimes we can point to a significant factor, but often we can’t. Our weariness results from the cumulative, multilayered intersections of life’s complexities, bodily frailties, emotional heartbreaks, and the consequences of sin. During this pandemic, I suspect many people are feeling this way. Some people who have jobs and are working from home long to be back in the office. Then there are the people who have lost their job and worry when they will find another one in the current economy. Others live in fear of contracting COVID-19. Sometimes the despair surpasses understanding. We just know that we are feeling overwhelmed in our lives but have no clear reason.

Because our burdens are not simple, they are not relieved by simplistic platitudes (“Cheer up! Things are bound to turn around!”). But a simple promise can relieve a complex burden, provided we believe that the power behind the promise is complex and strong enough to relieve our heaviness. Let’s take a look at how we can turn to God in times like these. The passage above gives us promise.

The first thing that Jesus says to us is, “Come to Me…” We are allowed to come to God personally; there is nothing between Him and us. We should take our troubles to God as the song “What a Friend We have in Jesus” says:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful?
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden?
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Second, He is inviting us to come. God wants you, in fact, Jesus wants to save us from our sins and woes so much that He died on the cross to prove it. Jesus didn’t have to come to this earth and die, but God’s love is so great, and He wanted us so much that He chose to come. All of this means: YOU ARE LOVED. Third, God lets us know who needs rest: it is those who labor and are burdened, but what does that mean? In this context, those who labor means those who are striving to do it all on their own and failing. I know that in my life I often try to do many things on my own. Sometimes that works, but sometimes we need help. When we are heavy laden, it is like our spirit, mind, will, and emotions cannot function because there is this weight on us that we try to lift by ourselves. It causes us to feel down, depressed, anxious, all those negative things that we do not want in life.

So, what does God say when we are weary? He will give us rest, and the best thing is He even tells us how, and it is by taking His yoke upon us and learning from Him. What is this yoke? Rest for our souls (our mind, will, and emotions). So, what does God give us rest from? Among many things, God can give us rest from hopelessness, anxiety, and depressions. There was a time in my life when I didn’t really believe this was possible, but God sent caring people into my life and with time, I healed and my faith was restored. I can’t say that everything is perfect now, but the despair I once felt has lifted considerably, and a lot of that had to do with my faith in God and the love of those around me.

God has good plans for our lives, and we can rest knowing that no matter what our life is like now, if we trust God, it will get better, but it may take time. Jeremiah wrote a letter to the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity, a period which lasted nearly a century, and said to them:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

— Jeremiah 29:11-13

Sometimes God doesn’t immediately rescue us from suffering and hardship. Sometimes He may not fix a problem right away, and most of the time it requires patience on our part. The Israelites in exile felt despair, like we all do at times in our lives. These periods of hopelessness, anxiety, and depressions robs us of our ability to enjoy life and not only hurts us mentally but physically as well. That is not God’s will for our lives. God wants us to live a full life and is able to heal our minds as we take those steps of faith to find rest in Him.

So how do we find rest with God? We should do our best to be like Jesus to follow in his footsteps. Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

—Matthew 5:3-12

This passage of scripture, commonly called the Beatitudes, are the teachings of Jesus in which He instructs us that if we live according to the Beatitudes, we will live a happy Christian life. The Beatitudes fulfill God’s promises made to Abraham and his descendants and describe the rewards that will be ours as loyal followers of Christ. Each beatitude looks at different circumstances of life and how all Christians are blessed through their faith. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches us about virtues and values in life that will result in blessings and rewards. These beatitudes are not singled out for specific peoplethey are blessings applicable to all Christians. 

I hope that this will encourage all of us and give us hope as we face each day knowing that we are called blessed! No matter your current situation, age, job, or family life, if you apply the beatitudes to your life, you will experience a joy and be fulfilled in your life. The Lord “will give you rest.”

I want to leave you with the song “What a Friend We have in Jesus” as sung by the late Holly Dunn. Holly has long been my favorite country music singer. Sadly, she passed away back in 2016. However, she left with us her beautiful voice and her wonderful songs.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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