The Struggle is to Rest

by Lester Young

Okay, life’s tough. You need only read Genesis 3:17-19 to find out why. But if you only read Genesis 3:17-19, you’re making an epic – and most tragic – mistake. And as it turns out, many people – the vast majority of the world, actually – are making that very error.

What error am I talking about? Well, you’ve heard the old saying, “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing,” haven’t you? Put simply, knowing only part of a story can get you into trouble – deep, deep trouble, in fact. And that’s just where you are if you don’t go beyond Genesis 3:17-19, which tells us:

“And… [the LORD] said, ‘Because you… have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return'” (English Standard Version).

However, that’s not all there is to it. There’s a lot more that happened after the aforementioned episode that has a direct bearing on those circumstances. Yet if you never bothered to take the time to really explore the rest of the story, you’d simply be inclined toward the same attitude as the rest of the herd: “Yeah, life’s tough.” And it would be, too; because you’ve only got a little information that’s worth trusting.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all [you] 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, English Standard Version). Now I ask that you indulge me for a moment, because I’m going to paraphrase that passage with a slightly different emphasis, one that typically isn’t taught:

“Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you [the yoke that I Myself have from My Father, take that yoke for yourself]. Learn from Me [learn this about Me]: I am gentle and lowly in heart. [I’m meek and humble, and if you make yourself meek and humble like Me], you’ll find rest for your soul: because My yoke [the yoke the Father has placed upon Me] is easy, and My burden [the burden He’s given Me to carry] is light.”

Just what “easy” yoke and burden did Jesus have? It’s simple: He only did what He saw His Father do, and He only said what His Father told Him to say (John 5:19, 30; 8:28). Nothing Jesus said or did was His own idea or under His own impetus. In other words, He didn’t try to make His own way, and He didn’t have to try to figure anything out for Himself. He just kept Himself in humble obedience to His Father’s Word and direction; which automatically kept Him safe in His Father’s love, blessing and protection (John 15:10). No one could even lay a hostile finger on Jesus – not until He gave them permission to (Matthew 26:50-54; John 8:59).

Jesus is our perfect Example (Matthew 16:24; John 13:15-17; 1 Peter 2:21). The way He did it – the way He lived here on earth – is exactly the way we’re supposed to do it (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 2:6). His easy yoke is the same one we’re supposed to take for ourselves. We don’t have to try to make our own way in life – we’re not supposed to. God our Father has it all already planned (Ephesians 2:10). We just need to humble ourselves to that truth – and that mindset (Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 5:5-7).

‘Doing it our own way and in our own strength’ is the struggle imposed by the curse in Genesis 3:17-19. Yet Jesus declared, “If you take My yoke – that is, a meek and humble heart that always yields to God’s Word, direction and way – you’ll have rest” (Matthew 11:29). Certainly, that’s not always going to be easy in every situation we face. But then, that’s the ‘struggle’ identified in Hebrews 4:8-11:

“For if Joshua had given [the ancient Israelites] rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his own works [ceased trying to do things his own way and in his own strength] as God did from His. Let us therefore strive [exert effort, labor, struggle] to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (English Standard Version).

That’s actually the only struggling we should to be doing.

Just because you have difficulties in your life, that doesn’t automatically define life as being “difficult”. It simply confirms the truth of the first part of Jesus’ statement in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.” But just as before, that’s not all that was said – He didn’t stop there. Our Lord went on to declare, “But be of good cheer, [because] I’ve overcome the world!” If that, then, is the case, does it really matter what adversities rise up against you? The whole thing’s already been settled: they’ve ultimately got to fall (Psalm 118:6-7; Isaiah 54:17; Colossians 2:14-15). So be obedient and do what Jesus tells you to do: “Be of good cheer!” Make every effort necessary to enter God’s rest and stop trying to do things your own way. If you do that, your victory’s already assured! (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

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