Deadlines, duties, chores. Meetings, commutes, conundrums. Worries, sufferings, heartaches. It all gets so tiring, doesn’t it? And surely, we’ve all been tired at some point. After hours, or days, or weeks, or months, or years, we feel the exhaustion. It starts to make us feel restless… uneasy, tense, anxious.
Some time ago, I found myself feeling this way. I felt emotionally worn out, my spiritual energy heavily depleted. Craving for rest, I kept coming back to Matthew 11:28-30. As I dived deeper into it, I found myself being drawn to verse 29. Here I found nuggets of wisdom on how to respond to Jesus’ invitation of rest.
“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
Take my yoke upon you…
Truly, Jesus knows how weak we can be when we lack rest. That’s why He offers us His yoke. According to the dictionary, a yoke is a wooden frame placed over the necks of two animals attached to a plough or a cart that the animals pull. In farming, a weaker animal is usually yoked together with a stronger one to increase its strength. Some may view the yoke as something restrictive or even oppressive, but not this one. The yoke that Jesus offers liberates us from the stress and anxiety of unrest. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Another noteworthy thing to mention about yoke is the fact that its Latin word origin means ‘to join.’ So when Jesus tells us to take His yoke, it’s like He’s saying this: “Join me, walk with me, stick with me. Let me lead you, let my presence carry you through.” The question is, are we allowing Jesus to lead us?
… learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart
As we walk with Jesus, He also gives us the privilege to learn directly from His example. He teaches us that the antidote to our restlessness is gentleness and humility. It may sound illogical at first, but it does make sense when you look closer at it.
Have you ever been so tired you just want to lie down and not care about anything else? I have. I was tired from days of work and events and in this particular instance, I had no choice but to walk home from the office under the pouring rain. As soon as I got home, I went straight to bed without changing my clothes, washing my face, or brushing my teeth. Didn’t bother to check my phone or text my mom to let her know I got home safely. I was too irritated, too frustrated, and too tired for anything else to matter. Exhaustion has that effect on us, I guess. It has a way of getting us to a point of numbness—of no longer caring for anything or anyone other than ourselves.
Jesus knows about weariness. After healing hundreds and preaching to thousands of people, Jesus must have been tired. Aside from that, walking for miles under the hot desert sun must have exhausted Him. And yet, Jesus kept his cool. Is that even possible? How does learning about gentleness ease our lack of rest? Well, I checked the word gentleness and found that it is synonymous with tenderness. Hmmm, interesting thought. If weariness can make our hearts cold and numb, maybe that’s why Jesus encourages us to be gentle like Him—to have our hearts tender before God. In the midst of our tiredness, we can rely on God to comfort us and refresh our weary souls. Keeping our hearts tender also safeguards us from being unkind to others. It’s one of the side effects of weariness: it can make us cranky and irritable, we end up saying or doing unkind stuff to people.
How about being burdened? What does being humble have to do with it? Well, personally, I noticed that being burdened comes from taking in too much stuff that it leaves no more room from rest. I noticed this in my life during those times I felt heavy laden. I was saying yes to tasks and events I can no longer fit in my calendar. I was getting myself involved in problems I can no longer solve. I kept on taking them all in because I wanted to prove something, as though I am life’s only solution. I had a messianic complex, you might say. Aside from these, being burdened can also come from holding on to past offenses, hurts, and issues.
Whether its from overlapping schedules or hidden hurts, things become painstakingly burdensome when we choose to hold on to them. This is why Jesus asks us to be humble in heart. Humility reminds us that we have nothing to prove. It acknowledges that God is in control, and that He is sovereign over every burden. It reminds us that we can confidently let go, because God can take care of us.
So, how are you feeling today friend? Weary? Burdened?
Go ahead, take Jesus’ yoke and learn from Him. He’s waiting for you 💙