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The Southgate Christian Fellowship

Message Centre

Rest or Fatigue?

A New Malady

Our age has produced a new malady. It is called “chronic fatigue syndrome.”

 There is a sense in which all of us suffer from it. If we are nothing else, we get tired. In fact, in a period of 24 hours the average adult is very busy: Our heart beats 103,689 times. Our blood travels 168,000,000 miles. We breathe 23,040 times. We inhale 438 cubic feet of air. We eat 3 1/2 pounds of food. We drink 2.9 quarts of liquid. We lose 7/8 pound of waste. We speak 4,800 words. We move 750 muscles.
Our nails grow .000046 inch. We exercise 7,000,000 brain cells.

No wonder we feel worn out!

However, when we come to Jesus, we come to One who promises us rest.
He 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." (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

But we have a
Common Problem

We are all tired from something, and fatigue occasionally overtakes even the strongest among us.

We get tired physically and mentally from the everyday struggle to make ends meet. We get tired emotionally from wrestling with difficult relationships, unrealized dreams, and disappointments. And, ironically, we can get tired spiritually from trying to
live up to our faith.

Fatigue can have consequences. In a fitness manual for the British Army there is this statement: ‘Fatigue dissipates ambition and in the extreme a soldier can lose his will to survive. Fitness means survival’. But fitness isn’t just a matter of slogging it out at all cost. Rest has an important part to play as Martha had to find out (Luke 10:38-42).

‘Fatigue dissipates ambition’. We see an example of this with the Nation of Israel. After they had miraculously come out of Egypt they had many problems to overcome. And, even though God was there for them at every point, when they reached the border of the Promised Land it’s possible they were worn out physically, mentally, and spiritually so they lacked the resolve to press forward. Faith had evaporated and even the majority of the spies came back with a negative report which the people believed. They were past it when it came to believing Joshua and Caleb.

 

Avoid at all costs!

The position Israel possibly found themselves in is a state to be avoided at all cost by the Christian. That’s why Jesus’ promise of… "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) is so important.

 

Rest AND Yokes

People wear all kinds of “yokes.” Some are slaves to ambition, to greed, to materialism, to lust, to alcohol, to pride and all of its evils. These are the things that truly exhaust us.

 We can rest from physical tiredness with a good night’s sleep, but to be mentally and emotionally tired is something else. We take it to bed with us and we wake up exhausted.

Yet Jesus offers rest.

If anyone else, a politician or even our doctor made this promise, we might find it empty. But when Jesus makes a promise, we should stop and listen. His promises are anything but empty. Jesus has both the integrity and power to deliver on His word. We stake our eternal destinies on the reliability of his promises, and we must take this promise seriously as well.

 

Challenging Prescription

But Jesus’ words are surprising when he said… 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." (Matthew 11:29-30) 

 We seek rest by escaping, getting away, relieving ourselves of responsibility.

This is very important!

It’s why we take holidays. It’s why we have relaxing hobbies. It’s why we obey God’s Word and enjoy the Sabbath Rest.

But, instead of giving us a nice comfortable bed or a nice quiet stream to sit by, Jesus calls us to a new task.

While we are looking for a hammock, Jesus calls us to a yoke!

He calls us to find rest by voluntarily placing ourselves under a new burden, but a burden that is easy and light.

The saying is that a burden shared is a burden halved, and the picture Jesus paints for us is of beasts of burden yoked or harnessed together.

Do people harness an experienced horse with a novice? I don’t know, but I can see there’s benefits in this as the novice picks up the ‘vibes’ from his more experienced mate.

Just as the experienced horse isn’t phased by obstacles and threatening situations so, when we’re harnessed to Jesus we’re going through life alongside someone who’s not phased by the pressures we face.

Jesus’ words show us that the real cause of fatigue is ‘doing it my way’, and that the nature of true rest is coming under his Lordship in our lives. He’s showing that the problem is not that we must work, that we must serve some master, that we must perform some task, but who we are serving when we do our work. He’s showing us that by putting ourselves under his yoke, under his Lordship, we do our work and live our lives with him and in his strength.

The kind of rest Jesus offers is not relief from the tasks necessary to sustain us or even freedom from all of life’s trials.
Those early disciples who took Him up on this promise still had to labour for bread and face life’s difficulties.

The kind of rest Jesus offers is a peace of mind, a calmness of spirit that comes from knowing our lives are being lived within His will. It is the kind of rest that accompanies a life that is rescued from self-made anxieties and stresses.

Even the unavoidable work of meeting basic needs is made less tiring knowing that the Saviour is looking after us and giving meaning and purpose to the most menial of tasks.

In Exodus 14 we read how, when the people of Israel were on their way out of Egypt and they reach the barrier of the Red Sea they begin to panic. But God’s call through Moses to ‘be still’ wasn’t a call to sit by the water’s edge, feed the ducks, or lie down and go to sleep. It was a call to trust God and receive his peace so they could be in faith to witness a miracle and cross through the waters. Was this something they were too tired to do later when they came to the border of the Promised Land?.

The same is true for us. Jesus’ offer of ‘rest’ is a call for us to trust God and receive his peace, to have rest in our soul, so we can have faith to more effectively deal with the situation we are in. St Paul puts it this way… ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7).

 

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