"Then spake Jesus, saying, Come unto me, all ye 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 ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:29-30
Ask just about anyone these days how they are doing, and a very common response will be “I’m tired.” People seem to be just plain worn out. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For many, the days seem long. The weeks seem long. Some have small children that demand much from them. Parents will never stop worrying about their children no matter how old they are, and their children will always fret and stew about the fact that their parents continually worry about them. Work obligations that consume extraordinary effort and time, waiting for something to happen that doesn’t seem like it is ever going to happen, struggling relationships that are filled with tension and conflict that won’t seem to go away, never ending to-do lists and so much more all seem to drag us down. It is a long list of stressors that seem to impact us all. All these and more of life’s many circumstances can produce worry, anxiety, and fear that exhaust us. It’s no wonder we say “I’m tired” when asked how we are doing.
If these are not enough, the spiritual dimension also weighs on us. We might grow tired of struggles with particular sins. Or we have a constant sense that there is more that we could or should be doing. Praying more, studying more, better attendance at church, giving more, serving more. But we are tired, and all these things just seem like more work. Faith and following Jesus is just too hard and too much work given everything else in life that presses in on us. How can we ever be what God wants us to be when life demands so much?
God instilled in the very fabric of creation a pattern for all of us to follow. God created us not just for work but also for rest. He could have made us in other ways, but we are designed, for example, to need sleep. A third of our lives (~8 hours a day) are spent sleeping. Think of all we could do or experience if we didn’t have to sleep! There must be a reason that we need sleep or rest. We are reminded in a wonderful Christmas hymn that “God is not dead, nor does He sleep” so perhaps one reason that we need rest or sleep is to remind us that even though we are made in His image, we are not God. We are not self-sufficient. We are dependent. So that we do not lose site of this we are turned useless once each day as we stagger to bed exhausted and needing sleep. We give up all self-control and succumb to a daily need for rest.
Latter-day revelation even commands us to “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (Sec 85:38b) So, we are created to rest and called to rest but not just physically. In other places in God’s word, we are told to -- Rest from fear. Rest from worry. Rest from anxiety. Rest from sin. Rest from endless efforts to satisfy ourselves through worldly means. But how can we?
In one of Jesus’ many encounters with the Pharisees concerning the Sabbath He says to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” and “the Son of Man made the Sabbath day therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:25,27) Sabbath is the Hebrew word for rest. We all know that one day each week is meant for rest and worship. But what does it really mean that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath – Lord of rest?
Rest is not found in getting everything right in our lives. If it were so, we would never find rest. Who among us can get it all right? Try as we might, living like we can is a recipe for unrest, for unrelenting weariness. Trying to get it all right just leads to more worry, anxiety, stress, frustration, failure and fear. Life’s stressors are not going to magically disappear. What if rest is not found in getting everything right in life but rest is found in entrusting everything in our lives to Jesus as Lord? Rest in Jesus’ Lordship over everything. He is the author and ruler over our rest. He designed rest. He created rest. He sowed the need for rest into our physical creation. Ultimately, He and He alone is the only source of true rest.
Solomon wisely wrote, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2) The bread of sorrows means the bread of toil, of wearisome effort. He knew that God is not so impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with the peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on Him and sleeps.
Trust in Jesus. Entrust your life to Him as Lord of the Sabbath the Lord of rest. Let Him through the Holy Spirit dwell in you and reign over you. Take His yoke upon you and learn of Him. “Come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that [you] might enter into his rest.” (Jacob 1:7)
When we are weak, He is strong. When we are confused, we have His wisdom within. When we are afraid, we have His power and courage. When we are alone, His presence brings comfort. When we are anxious, we have His peace that passes all understanding.
If you are tired and weary, come unto Jesus and in Him you shall find rest … and the next time someone asks how you are doing you can say, I am alive in Christ!
Come, thou long expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in thee.