Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)

During the time that Jesus walked on earth Oxen were valuable for the farmer in order to plow and harvest crops. A good Ox was worth its weight in gold. Because of their value it was important that the Oxen were well cared for. One of the ways this was done was to make sure that they wore well-fitted yokes. An Ox or team of Oxen, with a good wooden yoke could pull a plow or wagon all day long because the stress was placed on the yoke, not the animal.

There is a legend about Jesus and yokes. Everyone knows that his father was a carpenter and no doubt Jesus also learned the trade before He began His ministry at the age of about 30. The legend states that Jesus was an expert craftsman with wood and His specialty was making wooden yokes.

Although it is probably just a legend, the story paints a beautiful picture of Jesus’ concern for us as we journey through the struggles of life. Jesus didn’t discount that we would encounter struggles and burdens in life. In fact, He promises us that we will see tribulation (or trials) as we walk with Him. Sometimes those trials seem to increase as we grow in our relationship with Christ.

Jesus doesn’t say that He will deliver us from the burdens of life. He does say that He will provide a way for us to endure those trials. When storms come, He provides safe haven. When we seem flooded by adversity He provides higher ground. When grief and sorrow attack, He gives peace that passes understanding.

We often struggle with life because the yoke of human endurance and the “I can do it myself” attitude doesn’t ‘fit us well’. It transfers the stress of the situation onto our shoulders and we bear the weight of worry, doubt, despair and shame.

Jesus says ‘Take my yoke upon you’. The yoke of forgiveness, the yoke of grace, the yoke of love. Feel the gentleness of His touch on your life. When we endure the trials of life our bodies may suffer, but with Jesus we experience rest-rest of the soul!

Other people can make us physically and emotionally uncomfortable. They can attack us with lies and shame and guilt about what we do or our past. People can’t attack our soul unless we choose to wear that yoke. Choose today to put on the yoke of Christ’s forgiveness, grace and love. Burdens will come. Some of them very heavy. But God never intended for us to bear them alone. That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus and His Holy Spirit, to give our souls rest.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Thank you for the promise that no matter how hard life gets for me, you are always there. Thank you that your yoke is easy and will allow me to bear the burdens of guilt, shame, worry and doubt that seem to attack me on a regular basis. Teach me to rely on You for rest. In Your name I claim rest for my soul even when my body may be filled with physical and emotional pain. Amen.