“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
For a number of years I lived inside this verse. Or the verse lived inside me.
Monday through Friday I would drive begrudgingly to the office. I would park the truck as far from the building as possible, walk through the parking lot, use my badge to get into the building, wait for the elevator, and then clock in. And Monday through Friday I would work hard, clock out with a sigh, wait for the elevator, use my badge to leave the building, walk across the parking lot, and drive home miserably, knowing I would get up the next morning and do it all over again.
And this verse from Matthew 11 would swirl inside my head.
I know what this verse is about. It’s not about the rest that I longed for, from a job I was ill-fitted for in the business world. This verse is not about the weariness I am experiencing now while working at a school doing something I love. Yes, that is God-given rest, but this is not the rest Jesus was offering. They are related, though.
You see, while I was working in that awful place, I would often doubt God’s affection for me. There was an intellectual compartment in which I stored all the knowledge of God’s justifying grace and love toward me, regardless of my attitude and sin. I could teach it to a Sunday school class. I could counsel friends about it. But buying in while sitting at my desk was proving elusive. Doubt would creep in, riding on the wings of emotional reactions to stress and the hardship of work I had to do and could not seem to escape.
Let me tell you if you don’t already know: misery in your work, coupled with guilt over that misery, is a deadly mix. Guilt because you have a job and you hate it. Guilt over not doing a good job at work because you just don’t care. Guilt because God has given you so many other good things. It wears you down. It crowds out hope, and you have trouble enjoying even the smallest things.
I just wanted some rest. And Jesus offered it.
When in the midst of all the stress and frustration, I would sometimes remember the gospel message of Christ’s work on my behalf. I’d remember that He did all the heavy lifting—actually, He did all the lifting, period. Regardless of how my day went and how frustrated I was, I could rest in the knowledge that God the Father loved me because of what God the Son did for me.
And here’s the kicker. One day, we will not only rest in the work of Christ, but we will rest from all the weariness of this world. We need to go to Jesus with our need for rest from trying to work ourselves into God’s good graces. That is good news. In a world that offers work, Jesus offers rest for our weariness.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond