I know about hard work. As a young man it was physical labor, as an army officer it was more mental and emotional, as a college dean the emotional stress was extreme at times. All these tasks produced fatigue. Most of us know a different kind of tired. It is the one that encompasses every part of our being. We are apt to call it complete exhaustion. We are completely spent, physically, emotionally and mentally.
If you have been there you understand. You may get depressed, withdraw, find it difficult to pray, and become self-absorbed and unmotivated. It seems likely that Jesus experienced this kind ofexhaustion on some level but his response was different. He always chose to get alone and talk with the Father.
In Matthew 11:28-30 although he is the Great Physician he doesn’t prescribe an anti-depressant or a B-12 shot. He simply says, "Come to me."
Why is it so often in our world we turn to a doctor, counselor, friend or some kind of mood changer such as alcohol? They may appear more tangible or immediate. However, neither do they require faith or engaging our spiritual side.
Jesus goes on to say (in paraphrase) "When you are exhausted and burdened, I will give you rest. Get in harness with me, walk with me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)
There are a number of implications here. Jesus is saying ‘Don’t automatically reach out for the culture’s answers. If I (Jesus) am good enough for the "good" times why am I not adequate for the hard times. I am here for every situation. I will give you rest for your weary soul.’
I can recall times when I tried desperately to fight a problem myself until I was completely devoid of resources and had to face the fact that all I needed was Jesus. My friend Mike Wells used to say, "There is no problem that the nearness of Jesus cannot solve."
In verse 30 of the Matthew passage Jesus declares, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." How could he say this? After all his life was not stress free. He had a consistent solution. He always went to his Father.
I think there is a spiritual reality at work here that should not be overlooked. Looking more closely we find that He was in his Father and his Father was in Him. On our part, Jesus is in us and we are in Him. Whoa, that means we have the same capacity as Jesus to handle our stress.
Therefore we have every reason to do as Jesus did, turn to the one who upholds us in the hollow of his hand. With Jesus living in us we have all we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
It is not wise to always look at exhaustion or great stress as something bad. If we handle it correctly it drives us to Jesus and that is exactly where we need to be.