KEY SCRIPTURE Matthew 1:28-29
Come unto me, all ye that labour 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 ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Often we don't realise the burdens we carry until they drop from our shoulders. But while we have the burdens, what should our outlook be?
Wherever we go, and whatever we do, we can't escape burdens, as much as we'd like to. Even the beachcomber has to cook meals and wash clothes. Our burdens all become heavier when we don't let Jesus into them.
In our scripture, Jesus did not say, "Come unto me and I will remove your burdens". He said, "Ye shall find rest for your souls", which is very different.
I have heard people say, "Why hasn't the Lord removed my problem? I have prayed so many times!" Maybe that's because they have misinterpreted what He is trying to do within the problem.
God is a resourceful provider. He doesn't waste anything—particularly opportunities. As followers of Christ, the same troubles we want to dump in the rubbish bin God wants to use for teaching us. He tries to show we can have rest in the storm. A stormless life does not produce a worthy sailor, and problem-less lives will not make overcomers out of us.
I recall a very smart man once saying, "If you haven't got a problem, then go out and get one. For inside each problem is the seed of an equal or greater opportunity."
Much of the weight of our burdens arise from our way of thinking and the stress that consumes us. We get ourselves into a lather for various reasons, but little do we realise that at the same time we're fretting, and through the same problem we hope disappears, Jesus is trying to teach us to rest and get control amidst our predicament—to rely on our training in scripture, and follow it.
I'll ask you a question: In a rowing competition, which rower will win? The one who flays his oars around smashing at the water? Or the rower who follows his rowing training and keeps his cool under pressure, dipping and swinging as taught? We know the answer. The rower who clings to what he has been taught in spite of the panic-pressure to abandon it.
None of us appreciates adversity. Some troubles produce so much panic and worry we feel we'll have a heart attack if they don't go away. Yet, our frantic out-of-control demeanour adds no benefit. It adds confusion. Like the rower smashing at the water and for all his effort producing little speed, we also lose that short race set before us. Yes, each experience is a part of the big race of life.
I recall, when in my twenties, having a swimming race against an Olympic standard swimmer who was a good friend of mine at the time. It was just a river swim and there were a few others there. I was a good swimmer but nowhere near her standard, so she already had the advantage over my mind. As we dived in, she began gliding away from me effortlessly, like a swan.
Me? The further she got from me, the greater my loss of control became. Panic set in from the first stroke, and I didn't make any headway until I settled and took control of my strokes and breathing. I got a flogging that day, but it taught me a great lesson about this topic, despite the others belly-laughing at my out-of-control efforts.
Hebrews 12:1 emphasises what Jesus said in our key passage. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us"
The 'laying aside' has two inferences. One is to lay aside the unnecessary things of life that bear no fruit for our heavenly calling. The other is laying aside the weight of our burdens, as Jesus instructed, to receive his peace and rest as we wade through life's journey of intermittent dilemmas and obstacles. The 'witnesses' are those who entered and lived in the same rest we struggle to enter.
Issachar holds a key
Genesis 49:14-14 talks of Jacob's son Issachar and his prophetic attitude to his own burdens. "Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute."
Issachar, as we should, saw the extraordinary vision for his life far ahead and realised the extent of the burdens he was to carry to bring it to pass. With joy and understanding, he bowed his life to accept the servile work that would bring God's calling for him to fruition.
We will all have burdens until the day our bodies die. They're as much a part of life as out-of-season pouring rain, blistering sun or horrendous winds. But instead of cursing and muttering and becoming flustered and fearful, we should see that God is still in control of those things. The truth of our rest comes in the trust we have in our Saviour when hardships hit.
As you go through burdens, ask God for a mind and heart that can live in a restful state through them. Then begin praising and thanking Him. Be honest, and you will find a change will come to your outlook. Your burdens will become lighter, your life more focussed, and you will experience clearer solutions. Don't be too eager to remove the burden without looking deeper to see the Lord's work.
Today's prayer:Dear Lord, I can sometimes get myself in a mess, with my stomach knotted and my mind scrambled. I know I get nowhere, but I find it hard to rest in the turmoil. I keep fretting about the outcomes which cause me to wake at night. Please help me release all my worries to you. Settle me down to understand your unimaginable peace.
Photo by Adli Wahid