The kids and I are ready for a break. Thanksgiving is on the horizon, so close we can almost taste it. But before we can get there, the kids have tests and projects to do. A big push prior to the week off for the holiday. This Thanksgiving will differ from years past. We won’t travel to visit relatives or go on vacation. I will miss seeing my family, but I admit I relish the idea of a week of doing nothing. I don’t want to wake up early or worry about homework. We all need a good rest.
The concept of rest is elusive at times. Especially during the holiday season, we may anticipate time to relax and enjoy life, but often we encounter stress and busyness. This year, the regular holiday stress is compounded because don’t know what we can do, and we feel exhausted from the events and crises of this year. We enter into the season with a weariness that is (in the most used word of the year) “unprecedented.”
Jesus said, “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.” Matt. 11:28-30. I’ve always liked that verse, but I’ve struggled to put into practice. I find it difficult to seize upon that rest that God offers because I don’t feel at rest. At least, I don’t feel rest in the traditional sense of “no stress relaxation with nothing to do and nowhere to be” that usually comes to my mind.
One definition of rest is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” A second definition of rest is to be “placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.” (lexico.com). I thought of an armrest or a footrest. Or when I nursed my babies and propped them up on pillows so they would stay in one place. What if Jesus means that when we come to him weary and burdened, his rest will not provide an absence of stress, but that he will prop us up in our time of need. God will support us when we feel overwhelmed. God will keep us standing when we want to falter. God will arrange the metaphorical pillows to keep our crushed bodies in stable positions. When our minds are overtaxed and we need to let the tears flow, God will hold us tight in his arms.
Perhaps as we rush into the holidays, we can reflect on this image of God as our upholder. We can rest on God and know that God’s got us even when we don’t necessarily feel peaceful or calm. God loves us and will not leave us alone to fall when we are exhausted in body, mind, and spirit. Let’s be thankful for God’s “gentle and humble” heart.