Have you ever felt like you were carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, like too many people were counting on you to do too many things that would take too much time? That is exactly how I felt during finals week my last semester of college. I was studying for the most important exams of my life, interning, applying for full-time jobs, and packing to move when I got the news that my mom had severely broken her leg. She got emergency surgery, and I went home to take care of her while commuting to college to finish my finals.
After my best attempt at a systematic theology exam, I barely made it to my car before breaking down. I was crumbling under the pressure of taking care of my family, graduating college, being a good intern, and starting a career. Tears were uncontrollably streaming down my face as my head rested on my steering wheel in utter defeat. It seemed as though I was letting everyone down. My mind was racing, my body was shaking, and my heart felt heavy with the guilt of being unable to rise to the occasion.
Pressure, expectations, and responsibilities can make it feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, but Jesus says there is freedom from the pressures of perfect performance.
READ: Matthew 11:28-30
“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.”
Before farmers had tractors, they relied on really strong animals to pull big plows through the fields. During Jesus’s time on Earth, oxen were usually used to do the heavy hauling. One ox on its own would struggle to carry the bigger loads, so farmers connected two oxen together for double the cow-power. The oxen were connected by a wooden harness called a yoke that allowed them to share the weight and lighten their loads.
When a young ox was ready to start working, the weight of the plow and pressure to perform was overwhelming. Farmers would yoke these young oxen up with strong, experienced oxen to relieve some weight and teach them how to follow their lead. Jesus uses this concept as a metaphor in the Gospel of Matthew.
Jesus understands how the pressures of this world can weigh heavily on your mind and soul, so He invites you to share your burdens with Him. He will set you free from the things that are weighing you down and wearing you out. This freedom that is found in Christ brings supernatural peace and rest to even the most burdened souls. God is strong enough to carry the burden for you. Yoke up. Come alongside God. Follow His lead. Connect with Him and align yourself with His will.
Jesus lifts the pressure to be perfect and frees you with grace.
Jesus lifts the pressure to perform and frees you with unconditional love.
Jesus lifts the pressure to fit in and frees you with a unique purpose.
Jesus lifts the pressure to know what’s next and frees you through your surrender to His control.
The best way to “take God’s yoke upon you” is to intentionally realign yourself with Him each day. Every time you begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed, stop to spend time with God in prayer. Tell Jesus what’s weighing you down and ask Him to replace the stress with rest. God may not always change your circumstances, but He will always change your heart.
We’re commonly taught that God can set your soul free from death when your time on Earth comes to an end, but God can also set your soul free from burdens every single day of your life here on Earth. He will give you internal rest, peace, and freedom. No matter how much pressure falls upon you, stay connected to our powerful God through prayer and follow His lead.
TALK IT OUT
Go through these questions with your circle. Be honest. Be open. Talk through the tough stuff.
Q1: If you were an ox working the fields, how much weight do you think you could pull on your own? What if you were yoked with your best friend?
Q2: What kind of pressures weigh students down in their minds and hearts?
Q3: Have you ever felt a sense of freedom by something you read in the Bible or heard at church?
Q4: How can you share your burdens with Jesus?
Q5: What’s one thing you can commit to doing every time you start feeling stressed or overwhelmed this week to realign yourself with Jesus?