Rest for the Burdened

I’m sure I’m not alone in often overestimating how much I can carry in the supermarket. I breeze right past the baskets and trolleys, thinking I’m only picking up a few items, but pretty soon I’m balancing cucumbers precariously on top of my loaf of bread and hoping I don’t drop the pasta sauce jar. One time I was carrying so much that I dropped a bottle of Coke on the floor and it rolled beneath the aisle. A passing woman got her young son to crawl under the shelf and fetch it for me, leaving me grateful but embarrassed.

But I don’t only do this with my groceries. Most days of my life I’m carrying more than I can handle—and more than I need to handle. I drag around the guilt of my sin. I’m weighed down by anxiety about the pressing pastoral issue that I don’t know how to deal with. Why do I do this when I have an open invitation to the throne of God? He rules over the entire cosmos, upholds the giant redwoods and every cell in my body, and yet I don’t trust him with the worries of my heart.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

When we hear this invitation from Jesus, it’s easy to respond, “Rest sounds great, but maybe later when I have less to do.” We think rest is a destination we make it to when we’ve finally cleared off our to-do list. By his grace, God has been teaching me that rest is for right now, in the midst of the mess and the busyness. When anxiety presses in and I don’t have time to get everything done, I can find respite by laying my burdens at the feet of my Saviour. It’s not about saying the right words. I simply pull myself away from my desk, come to him in prayer, and talk about what’s worrying me. I’m reminded that I’m not a robot designed to churn out widgets—I’m the beloved child of my Heavenly Father. He cares about my heart far more than he cares about my productivity.

What peace I find when I admit my weakness and ask God for the strength to do the work he has placed in front of me today. What joy I find when I remember that all my labour is in the service of the King who took on my burdens. What rest I find when my to-do list is longer at the end of the day than when it began, and yet I know I am loved and accepted by God.

There is rest now in the arms of Christ, and there will be eternal rest on that final day when I hear my God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Not for the tasks I accomplished, but for trusting in Jesus when I couldn’t do anything at all.

Give him your burdens today. Don’t stride confidently past the grocery baskets. Recognise your needs and his infinite capacity to meet them. Stay awhile by the throne, let him carry your burdens and lead you to green pastures and quiet waters.


  1. Keith February 15, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    As my friend says, we can sleep because God never sleeps:
    “He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
    Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps 121:3-4).


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