Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? … Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest… Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28
Doesn’t that seem like an unbelievable offer? But, how do we experience the rest that Jesus offers?
One might think that the only real rest Jesus speaks of here is beyond this earthly life, in heaven. But day-to-day, how do we obtain rest from those burdens – financial problems, family troubles, health issues – that we carry in our life?
During the time that Jesus lived and spoke these words, the people around him would have applied these words to their daily lives. The people who were tired and worn out from life’s difficulties came to Jesus, seeking his help. Throughout the Gospels we read of Jesus helping those suffering from illnesses and disabilities, intervening in family issues, and encouraging a better distribution of wealth to help those who were struggling.
But Jesus is no longer alive on this earth, so how can he help us? If we look in the Bible, we see that it does not make light of what troubles us, expecting us to easily shrug off our burdens. It is not glib in its understanding of life’s difficulties. It gives us many examples of people severely troubled. The writer of Psalm 77 is one such person. He lies awake at night in distress. This is not a few minutes of sleeplessness but an ongoing anguish that he describes as being without weariness that does not allow him to sleep. Instead his mind is tireless, running with many thoughts. Psalm 77:2, 4, 5. He has cried out to God for help but he has not seen God responding. So, in his long sleepless night he doubts God – His love and His care – and wonders whether God has forgotten him. Psalm 77:7-9 NLT
We may be at the same point as the Psalmist. We may have cried out to God for help and be wondering why he is silent and uncaring.
But then, the Psalmist refuses to slip into despair. Instead, he is determined to remember God’s faithful protection in the past. He will hold fast to and cling to God. Psalm 77:10-12. 2 Kings 18:6. Psalm 119:31 NLT He will not be like those who, in Psalm 78:9-16, have forgotten God’s provision and care.
As we cry out to our heavenly Father, we need to appeal to God’s promise of provision and care too.
When you pray, come into the presence of God and Jesus. Bring your problems and off load them at his feet – “cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV
Tell him all those worries that are consuming you and that, because of his promise to care for you, you determinedly trust that he will support you and give you rest, based on His promise: “He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22 NLT