Don’t let familiarity breed contempt when it comes to these verses. They are Jesus’ words, true now and always.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.
Matthew 11:28-30 NET
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NIVUK
When my friend wrote a blog post titled “Being a Christian is Hard” my immediate thought was “Is it? Or do we just make it hard?”
Part way through the post, my friend said the same thing, but only to ask the question. These were my thoughts in response, which I added as a comment, but I thought were worth putting down here too.
We do try too hard, even if we only focus on those key actions of love, obey and forgive.
Remember: the law is beyond us. The sermon on the mount is beyond us. “Love as I love you” is beyond us.
We all (and of course I include myself) need to relax, trust God, and trust ourselves. Trust our instincts because we are made in God’s image. Trust our conscience because it is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Trust our wisdom which is a gift from God. If we trust in those things with humility, then we are not leaning on our own understanding but we are leaning on God with us. And when we lean on God with us we can relax and trust what He said:
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
Matthew 11:28-30 NIVUK
It’s all so much easier said than done. We want to do our best, we want to please the Lord, we want to try. And if we realise we’re trying too hard, we try not to try. Being a Christian can be very trying!
I’m learning to trust more than I try. I’m learning to be more than I do. I think it’s a lifelong lesson though, and I’m just grateful any time I manage to rest in God.
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven’s all-gracious King” –
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel-sounds
The blessed angels sing.
But with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring; –
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing; –
Oh, rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever circling years
Shall come the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth,
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song,
Which now the angels sing.
Edmund H. Sears
When a shadow is cast over my life,
When my energy drains,
When my joy fades,
When nothing in this world satisfies me,
I look to you,
My soul cries out to you,
I long for you,
I speak to you,
In my weariness,
In my sadness,
In my frustration,
In my anger,
I call to you,
I reach for you,
I kneel before you,
I worship you,
Too many burdens weigh me down,
Too many voices fill my ears,
Too much pain distracts my mind,
Too many dreams disturb my sleep,
I lay it all before you,
I confess it all to you,
I open my heart to you,
I trust you,
You are my strength,
You are my truth,
You are my companion,
You take the strain,
You point the way,
You make sense of the world,
You walk with me,
You cry with me,
You lift my head,
You calm my heart,
You are my shield,
You are my rock,
You are my saviour,
You are my life,
Hebrews 12:1-2, Psalm 23, Matthew 11:28-30, Isaiah 50:10, John 8:12