“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” These are Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel. And often I need that reminder.
We all feel burdened from time to time but sometimes I admit that I play the “martyr”. Why me? Poor me! How can this be happening? What else can possibly go wrong? It’s during these times of self-pity that I forget God’s promise of love. I become so self-absorbed that I can only focus on my needs – my pain – my heartache. And my burden only becomes greater because I fail to remember that I am never truly alone.
During those darkest times – when I am feeling alone and unloved and that I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders I try to recall the words of a hymn that Deb shared with me the first year that we were married:
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way;
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
Burdens. We all must bear them from time to time. Some are heavier than others. Some can be life-changing. And some might seem insurmountable. But nothing is stronger or more powerful than God’s love. The beauty of my life is that God delivers his love to me daily – through the shared hymn given to me by my beautiful wife; by the sweet kisses of my granddaughters or the giggle of my grandson; by the loving words of my children; by the comfort and concern of my siblings; by the countless kindnesses bestowed upon me by friends. Many times they have dried my tears; shared my struggles; helped me find my way.
The other evening Deb was reading a bedtime story to our granddaughters – “That’s What Grandmothers Are For”. Now she has been known to cry watching a Hallmark® commercial so the fact that this book’s tender message brought tears to her eyes was no surprise to me. The girls however were both concerned because Nana was crying. Instinctively our younger granddaughter Anna grabbed a tissue and wiped her eyes. The pure compassion of that gesture then brought me to tears. What an amazing example our children have set for their own children!
Being Christ to one another is the ultimate expression of God’s love. Thanks to each of you for the times that you have carried my burden. I hope that you will allow me the honor of carrying yours, too.
Aretha Franklin sang about it in 1969. Still sounds good today…