Jesus 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.” (Matt 11: 28 – 30)
A strange thing is happening. I keep meeting people who seem to be unusually tired. It’s not a physical tiredness, something we can easily recover from by taking a break or having a good night’s sleep. No, it’s deeper than that. I’m hearing words like exhaustion, and discouragement. Friends are saying “It’s all just too much”, “I’m just trying to hold it together”, “I’m emotionally drained”.
More and more of us are under pressure and some feel like they are carrying a burden, a heavy weight. Many feel weary.
Where can we find rest for our souls?
According to Jesus’ words, the first thing we can do is go to him. “Come to me…”, he says. I love the story of Jesus in the boat at the end of Mark 4. There was a furious squall. Waves were breaking over the boat, which was close to sinking. Luke tells us that Jesus and the disciples were in great danger. Yet Jesus was found asleep.
Despite the cacophony of panicking sailors and strong winds around him, the violent rocking of the flimsy wooden craft underneath him and the endless spray of water on his face, Jesus somehow managed to find the peace of mind to put his head down and have a doze.
What does rest for the weary mean? Perhaps it means when we come to Him, we come to the one who is the prince of peace, the one who knows how to find peace in the middle of the storm. Regardless of the noise around and the uncertainty ahead.
I believe the rest Jesus gives is synonymous with peace. Jesus could rest asleep because his heart was at peace. If we seek rest and peace, the first step is to come to Jesus. What next?
The psalmist in 91: 1 declares that “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Here, rest comes from dwelling. Skip to psalm 84 and we find another author in the dwelling place of God. In fact, he is longing for it, likening it to birds who make their nest in crevices in the temple structure.
“Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar…”
(Ps 84: 3)
The birds and their chicks have made a nest in God’s house. They have set up home there. They want to be there, to live there.
The verse is not just encouraging us to have a ‘Bible time’ every day. It is challenging us to live in God’s presence throughout the day. We come to Jesus, and we stay with him. We dwell there.
Dwelling in the shelter of the Most High then leads to rest. And therefore peace. But also hope. Isaiah prophesied that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary: they will walk and not be faint.” (Is 40: 31)
Hope in God and His promises is possible when we discover His presence. When we learn to dwell there. In a place of rest, strength is renewed, and weariness can no longer grow in our hearts.
Come to Jesus. Dwell in His presence. Find His peace. Find His rest. Discover Hope. Feel the weariness evaporate and the strength return. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”