His Yoke, Our Burden

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It’s what we Moms do. Fix things. Band-aids on skinned knees.  An embrace to sooth a tearful child. Comfort food to welcome and cheer.  Their trusting faces say “Mommy, you can fix anything.” We believe it, until we don’t. Until we can’t.  Can’t fix it.

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come…”

Cancer, mental illness, depression, divorce, infidelity, incarceration, gender identity crises.  I’ve felt the crushing weight as family members, or dear friends or their children shoulder burdens.  Burdens too heavy. Desperate to relieve suffering. But we can’t. Helplessness. Lack of control. Fear. Grief. Anger. When we can’t fix it. When we shouldn’t. When we have to go through, not around with those we love. But how?

Reminds me a little of how I felt each time I headed into labor for one of our six children.  After briefly entertaining the ludicrous question, “How did I get myself into this situation?” I was faced with the inescapable nature of the event, with no guarantees. No choice but to do what I knew to do--breath slowly,  trust in my heavenly Father, my husband’s soothing touch, and our well-trained, beloved doctor, Dr. John Gonzalez.

Recently, a tender passage straight from Jesus lips spoke to my helplessness:

“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.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Right away Jesus words shone a spotlight on the folly of my ways. I can’t carry the burden. I wasn’t meant to.  Jesus’ yoke is easy, His burden is light, not because my cares are light, but because He is strong to carry them. When I give my burden to Him, I invite him to be who He is to me and to those I love. Gentle Jesus who brings rest to the weariest of souls.

But if this sounds like I’ve got it all figured out, think again. Trying to put this into practice raises new questions about what letting Jesus carry my burden looks like.

Does letting Jesus carry the burden mean letting go of the struggle?

Personally, I don’t think so.  Jesus sweat drops of blood before he went to the cross.  He wept over Jerusalem. Ephesians 6:12 describes a fight (yes, a fight) , not against flesh and blood, but against evil authorities and rulers of the unseen world…” Paul the writer encourages us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Our earnest prayers for those we love are part of our labor of love, and what God requires.

Does letting Jesus carry the burden mean we don’t feel the weight at all?

Again, I don’t think so.  A physical yoke still rests on two sets of shoulders.  We will feel some weight. I believe we need that. To remind us to pray.  To connect to the suffering of those we love. The difference is that we are side by side with Jesus. That means the One who calls us friend is right next to us. We can tell him our doubts and fears—real fears, not imagined ones.  A real yoke demands relationship. Not denial.

Years ago, I agonized hearing of a young missionary couple home to Canada,  who lost two of their children to malaria when the stateside doctors didn’t recognize the symptoms until too late.  I grieved deeply and questioned how anyone could endure that kind of tragedy. Wisely, my pastor’s wife, Kay Ware Zello, counseled me.  “You don’t have grace for that situation because you are not in it. God gives grace when the time comes.”

And I realize that this is at the heart of my suffering for those I love.  Failing to see the gentle Jesus ready to carry them. To meet them. Fear of the unknown rather than faith in the One who has proven Himself faithful.

That being said, this is no once and done solution.  In His love for me and those I hold dear, I find myself needing over and over to remind myself of His faithfulness, tell him my fears, intercede, seek His reassurance. And that is relationship, so I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Not a hand-off and a see ‘ya.   His arms strong arms continue to carry what I cannot. And embrace me when the tears flow. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Philip Bliss, 1875