Do you ever get to the end of the week feeling weary? Sometimes I am weary from a week filled with activity but other times weary and troubled in my mind or spirit from puzzles life has brought my way through the week or challenges and concerns that I haven’t found answers for.
Do you ever find yourself wishing you could call a “time out” at the end of a week like that?
In Scripture God promises rest for the weary. Not only rest for our bodies but also for our minds and the thoughts that spin through them without coming up with answers.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
What a wonderful promise! But His solution in the next verse can seem confusing:
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. Matthew 11:29
Growing up on a farm that had been in the family for generations so I have always been familiar with yokes. (Watching every episode of Little House On The Prairie over and over helped educate me as well!) My grandfather and even my father and his brothers used yoked horses and oxen in their work in the fields or to pull wagons filled with people or things. Yokes are designed for hard work. I really never thought of them as something I would voluntarily take on.
The yoke that Jesus is referring to here is a yoke designed for two animals to wear together. It helped them to share the burden of hard work that was ahead of them.
When a young ox or horse was going out in the field for the first few times it had no idea how to work with a yoke around its neck so the farmer would put the young animal next to one with more experience who could help guide it and teach it how to work with this burden. The teaching animal needed to be gentle and calm so as to have patience with the young animal who was apt to pull and jerk at the yoke, fighting it at first.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
As long as the young animal pulled and fought the burden of the yoke it would find it heavy and the work very difficult but as it relaxed and allowed itself to ease into its share of the work the animal found the burden lightened as it was no longer carrying it alone. As the experienced animal worked beside the younger it also encouraged it to keep going even when the work was hard and it wanted to lay down and quit.
Jesus doesn’t promise that we will never have to carry burdens, only that we never have to carry them alone.
Jesus says we should take His yoke for it is easy. In this context easy can be translated to mean perfectly fit. Yokes were commonly used by the same animals repeatedly so the farmer would fit it to the neck of the individual ox or horse so that it didn’t rub or chafe. Sometimes the yoke needed to be planed down or built up in certain areas to fit the animal properly.
This is what Jesus is promising for us. When we take on our own yoke of carrying burdens that are not designed for us to carry alone the yoke is chafing and cumbersome. It is hard to move through the day or rest easy because of the weight we are trying to bear alone.
But when we take on God’s yoke we find it designed to fit us perfectly and find Him wearing the other part of the yoke. He takes part of the weight to make the burden easier.
And – God walks beside us as we carry the burdens together, assuring us we’re not alone and encouraging us along the way. When Jesus asks us to take on His yoke He is not asking us to accept additional burdens but to share ours with Him. Jesus’ yoke is designed for two and we can be assured He will never drop His side/portion of the yoke or quit in the middle of the struggle. God doesn’t always remove the burdens from us, but also never expects us to carry them alone. We can rest in the assurance and trust in His care.
God also created us to be there for each other.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
We should encourage people in our lives who are burdened and need an earthly friend to walk with them or a shoulder to lean on. In turn, we should ask God to provide us with people who will also be there for us when we are burdened.
The ultimate promise we can depend on when we are burdened and weary is the promise that some day it will all be behind us. There is an end to the struggles for those who trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord. He tells us:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
If you are weary and burdened today take heart! Trust in Jesus and take on His yoke. Your burden will lighten and you will find encouragement along the way. Rest in His promises and listen for His encouragement.
If you need someone on earth to walk beside you and encourage you drop me a note. I will do my best to share your burdens and take them to the Father in prayer with you.
Find rest in Him this weekend!
Blessings and peace to you,