Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I Will Give You Rest

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Do you not know or have you not heard? The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Jesus said to the crowds: “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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)


And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

(refrain from “On Eagle’s Wings,” Michael Joncas 1979)


Lately I’ve been feeling discouraged and rather overwhelmed. My mother died two months ago. In the last few years she had suffered from breast cancer, a chronic lung disease, and then the lung cancer which finally took her from us. Sick as she was at times, she must have been directing the upkeep of the household behind the scenes, because now that she’s gone, my father doesn’t seem able to do anything. I’m waking up to the realization that his memory and cognitive abilities are far more impaired than my siblings and I ever realized. I already had a busy life and now I find myself having to fit in transferring my mother’s investments and assets to my father as well as taking care of his financial affairs and paying his bills. I have had little time to grieve the loss of my mom.

If we’re listening for the sound of God’s voice, the Lord may speak to us when we least expect it. I dutifully printed out today’s Scripture readings in preparation for this Daily Tripod, and suddenly I heard God speaking words of encouragement to me! I am not alone. We are never alone. When we’re weak or exhausted or overwhelmed, God gives us the strength to go on.

This must have been good news to Isaiah’s audience, the Israelites held for years as captives in Babylon. Their time of servitude was dragging on and on and on. Had their God forgotten about them? No, says Isaiah. If you put your hope in the Lord, he will give you strength. You will soar like an eagle. You will walk and run through life without fainting or falling.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us to come to him when we are burdened. I will give you rest, he promises. He then talks about us taking his yoke upon us. We don’t live in farm country, and you and I may not know too much about yokes. But, once, years ago, I heard a United Methodist minister preach on this Gospel passage. She brought along one of her grandfather’s yokes from his farm. She showed us how the yoke had places for two animals to be joined together in order to share the work load. That’s what Jesus is promising us. You will never be alone. I will carry your burdens with you. Come to me. Let me help you.


Take Jesus up on his offer today. When you have some quiet time to pray, lay before the Lord whatever is discouraging you, overwhelming or burdening you. He won’t magically make it disappear, but he will be right there with you, carrying half the load.