Today I was struggling, truthfully, it started yesterday. And probably long before that – it’s been a long year or five. The particular struggle in my life is irrelevant, but the lesson of the struggle is. I know God has been working on me about showing joy during times of struggle – and, keeping with my pattern, I’ve struggled with that too. But today I did something better and turned to His word for guidance. And after some different passages I fell into one that spoke to me clearly in Mathew.
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 in your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is lightMathew 11:28-30
Merriam-Webster defines a yoke, and there are several meanings. In the Bible, it’s most often used to describe a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together. Merriam-Webster would go on to say that it could be an oppressive agency. Why does the dictionary think as I do? Carrying a yoke, that’s oppressive, burdensome.
Jesus has the audacity to say if you have a burden, take another burden? What exactly is Jesus saying to me here, in this moment where my burdens seem too heavy?
Love, Servitude, Obedience
The yoke that Jesus carries is one of Love. As a human, this often comes in the form of serving others, and Obedience to God. How does loving others, obeying and serving God make our burdens light?
So often we choose to take up the yoke that solves our problems. Let me work and toil on this thing so that I can fix my happiness, my struggle, so that I can fix my joy. But, Jesus tells us to drop our yoke and take up his yoke. His yoke is easy and light, it includes love, serving others and being obedient to God.
Loving Yourself The Way God Loves You
If you’re a parent you know the sheer joy of watching your child do something really bad, but you are overcome with sheer joy. I’ve seen numerous plays, concerts, and sporting events where my child was not the star – but they were always my star. When Seth was in preschool, they had a Christmas performance where he was Santa Claus. He was dressed up in a Santa outfit, including some stuffing in his belly to make him appear extra jolly.
Seth was so shy then in that play. He spoke timidly, and made it through the underwhelming performance. It was a performance that only a parent could love. Have you heard the phrase “a face only a mother could love”? Well, you’re face/life/circumstance is that that only a Father could love and adore. You too are a hot mess, like the rest of us. But God, he adores us – even amidst our greatest failures he tears up in pride in how strong you are, how well you fight through the hard time. Amidst the struggle, The Father is glowing.
one thing I’ve been really struggling with for a long time is being joyful on the outside when there are trials, tribulations, and struggles of various sorts. I’ve never been good at smiling during the hurt, at being joyful through the pain. God knows this, and he’s been working on me about it – but I’ve fought him the whole way. How can I find joy in a moment like this? How can I be happy when my world is falling apart? How can I show joy even as the world around me crumbles?
I was today years old when I learned that my joy should be derived from Him, that even and especially amidst my struggles God peers on with utter love, joy, amazement at His creation. And friends, that’s all that really matters amidst our earthly struggles. This earth is a pitstop to reach a place where His love surrounds us eternally.
The holidays always bring some joy. Often the most wonderful time of the year brings it’s own set of baggage. Remembering those who we lost, the hurt of family who is not around anymore (or never was). The pain of loss, the heartache of not being able to give your children all that you want to give them. The financial stress, the rush, the arguments with family and friends.
The Pain, The Pleasure
All of this is life. The pain and the pleasure, the love and the hate, the hot and the cold. But in Him, we can take His yoke, and be more joyful. Today I’m thankful to have the time to sort through some of this in my head, and I hope that it works – that I can be happier in times of sadness. And, even if I can’t yet – He will be watching with amazement at His creation working through some set of struggle, and loving me every bit more because of the struggle.
In times of my personal struggles, as long as I continue to seek the answers through His word and prayer, then I be better – encouraged. Maybe I will learn, and maybe I will practice what I learn. I’ll keep turning my eyes to Jesus during times of struggle, and perhaps someday, you’ll see me with joy amidst that pain.