December 11, 2019
by Joan Blandin Howard
Creighton University's Christian Spirituality Program
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Lectionary: 183

Isaiah 40:25-31
Pslams 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10
Matthew 11:28-30

Today's Advent Prayer

Praying Advent Home Page

Becoming John the Baptist
- Preparing the Way for Jesus

A Video of a talk by Maureen Waldron:
The Season of Waiting
- Our God Who Is Waiting for us

Come and Rest

Some might say, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” At times it can seem as though He does.  Others might say, “Give it (whatever the issue) to God”.  As if it were some sort of gift.

I have a very dear friend who has suffered with chronic depression for years.  I have no personal experience with this debilitating disease.  From my perspective, I see a prayerful, grace-filled, self-reflective person. A person of faith.  A person who lives most days and nights in degrees of suffering and pain – mental and physical. Depression, as described to me, is like being deep within such darkness that with eyes open there is still no sight – endless blackness prevails.  Not seeing any way out of the dark. Somehow, at some point there seems to be a sort of surfacing. Bruised, battered and fragile.  This sense of being relatively “better” can last days, weeks or months. Eventually the dark returns. Through all of it, my friend has been in treatment, therapy, and on medication.  Through all of it, there has been ‘hope’.  Even when ‘hope’ seemed to have no meaning.  As in scriptural lamentations, desperate cries of helplessness to God to take whatever burden away have not seemingly lightened or removed the “labor or burden”. Still hope survives.

A neighbor stands accused of a very heinous crime against a child.  Guilty or innocent, I have no way of knowing. As might a Samaritan of Jesus’ culture, prior to any legal action, my neighbor stands tried and convicted by bystanders.  I cannot begin to fathom the pain and suffering of the situation.  Not only the person, but family and friends suffer as well.  Shunned by neighbors, ‘friends’ and even family.

In today’s reading in Matthew we do not hear Jesus say anything to the effect that ‘you’ can handle it.  Or, just give me all your sorrows, pains and suffering.  I’ll take care of it all; I will fix it.

What we do hear is “…Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” Jesus is saying to us, I will teach you how to carry your own burdens. I will help you carry your burdens. Watch, listen and learn from me.  Jesus wants us to come to him, invite him into our hearts, share our joys and sorrows with him. Let Me in, I can help you. Isaiah says “He (God) does not faint or grow weary…” as we often do.  Jesus is meek, humble, gentle, kind and compassionate.  He too lived in faith and hope in his Father. He too labored and grew weary.  He too carried burdens and labored.  Jesus’ invitation is to ‘come’, be with me in my burdens and I will be with you in yours.  We will walk together.  Isaiah reminds us, “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” Jesus says, “I will give you rest”.

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