“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Very familiar words from Scripture. But what do they mean to you? What are your burdens? What are the things in your life that weigh you down? Sometimes the thing that we “see” as the burden, really isn’t the burden at all, it’s something else, something deeper, something we struggle with and, sadly, that struggle often is met with failure to overcome it.
So, here’s where Jesus’ words can have a new meaning for us. He’s speaking to the person who’s struggling. That’s you and me! We are the people who struggle with our weaknesses.
He’s speaking to you who are trying to live a holy life but often fall into the traps that sin and frustration create for us. But notice what we are told—-“I will give you rest”. The emphasis in that sentence should be on the pronoun “I”. We are not told, “Here’s how you can find rest.” We are told, “I will give you rest.” So, we allow the Lord to take the burden.
But for some of us, that can be the hardest thing to do, believe it or not. We may pray, “Lord help me with my problem—-with my weakness; keep me from temptation, etc. But how much confidence do we have in those words that we utter? Do we, in a sense, hesitate in our prayer? Thomas Merton says that “hesitation is the death of hope.” He goes on to say that this hesitation makes true prayer impossible—-it never quite dares to to ask for anything, or if it asks, it is so uncertain of being heard that in the very act of asking, it surreptitiously seeks by human prudence to construct a make-shift answer. What is the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to our prayer?
This is something I think we all should really think about. Thomas Morton’s words offer a new perspective on our attitude to prayer and offers us something to think about that we may have never considered before, namely, our lack of confidence in Christ’s ability to take away our burdens—-and help us find rest in the face of life’s challenges.
So, when you ask for help, do it with confidence and hope. And in addition to this, remember that we are loved despite our weaknesses. As humbling as facing them can be, there is a good that comes from this acknowledgment.
Since I have been on a “roll” with Thomas Merton, let me wrap things up with this powerful message from him that, I think, ties everything I have been trying to say this morning all together. It comes from a little book of his called “Thoughts in Solitude”:
“If we know how great is the love of Jesus for us we will never be afraid to go to Him in all our poverty, all our weakness, all our spiritual wretchedness and infirmity. Indeed, when we understand the true nature of His love for us, we will prefer to come to Him poor and helpless. We will never be ashamed of our distress. Our distress is to our advantage when we have nothing to seek but mercy. We can be glad of our helplessness when we really believe that His power is made perfect in our infirmity.”
“Come to me all, you who…are burdened, and I will give you rest.”