It is in humble submission to God, the One who is love, that we find our strength.
Life is difficult. As adults, we are saddled often with decisions, big decisions about weighty things. If we are self-reflective and responsible, we are aware of our brokenness and its effects on others, ourselves, and our relationship with God. We often have heavy and important responsibilities to ourselves, our families, our work, and as citizens. And at times we bear the heavy weight of various kinds of suffering. It is not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the unexpected burdens that come our way.
There, too, are things in life that are beyond our ken, things that seem secret to us. We wonder about things like: Why must we suffer? How can we find meaning in it? How can we rise above it? How do we get beyond self-pity and despair? This passage from Matthew’s Gospel gives us an answer to that question. The answer is a Person who can be known and desires to touch us, to enter into our lives. It is Jesus, the man of suffering, who yoked himself to our humanity and bore upon himself the weight of our sins, out of love for us. He is the power that touches us, even enters us, and fills us up until it bursts forth from us unreservedly. His is an astounding power, a power that changes everything.
This power is more real than we can imagine. This power brings dead things to life, both within us and without. This power can heal old wounds and can push away our old, unreasoned fears. This power can silence the internal and external storms that accompany our trials and tribulations with whispered words of counsel, or with the fierce force of forgiveness. The world is often blind to this power or considers it foolish to believe in such things. But the unbelief of the world has no power over it. It is the power of love (1Jn.4:8). To quote an old wisdom, “Amor vincit omnia”, “Love conquers all.”
In this passage from Matthew Gospel, Jesus tells us to come to him when we are being crushed by our labors and burdened by life’s cares. He promises us that, if we do, he will “give us rest” from those labors and burdens. The passage seems contradictory when he follows those words with, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
And here we confront the paradox that is at the core of our Christian faith. It is in humble submission to God, the One who is love, that we find our strength. Though life’s burdens sometimes seem like crosses, when we open ourselves to God’s love, he sends his Spirit to strengthen us in the midst of our labors. When we yoke ourselves to Jesus, to his law of love, he gives us the courage we need to be able to walk in his way, even in the midst of the storms. It is in this humble submission to divine love, especially when we are in the midst of life’s trials, when we are bearing the burdens of our own crosses, that we find meaning, purpose, and victory. Thanks be to God!SKM: below-content placeholder