“Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (Matt.11:28)
I am tired and I am weary.
Last Sunday’s Gospel gave word for what is happening inside me. Something that I really could not put words to before. And yet, now when I hear Jesus’ words its like a big spotlight has been shone on that place in me that has been going like a busy bee. My body has been busy, my mind has been busy, and at times it feels like my emotions have been rather busy too. Some of the busyness has been self-imposed and some is the outcome of moving into a more virtual world.
I know this is not the same experience for all of us, over these past few months. Some have of you have had your lives thrown into overdrive. And some of you have had your lives slowed to an almost complete stop. The experiences have been different, but each can be exhausting in its own way. And just because the body has slowed down, doesn’t mean the mind has followed. Or when the body speeds up, for too long, the mind tends to start to get a little sluggish and a little more distracted. And both in the speeding up or the slowing down of our bodies and our minds, our emotions and feelings are also not to be ignored. They, too, seek expression but we are not always sure whether they will appear in healthy and helpful or unhealthy and unhelpful ways.
Does that sound about right for you, as well? It's been a long road, these past months, and the end is not yet in sight. It's harder to stay hopeful as Covid cases continue to increase around the world. And its hard to stay hopeful as the continued acts of injustice, around the world, are being brought to light as well. And we really have not had a chance to express, as a community, how we are doing or where do we go from here. Because we have been asked to stay apart, we have not had a chance to share together in our hopes, in our sorrows, and in our concerns for the future.
And I think that might have something to do with my weariness. There really has been nowhere to direct all of my weariness that has been built up. But even more so, there has been no place to direct all the cries of my heart whether of sadness, or anger, or despair, or of loneliness. Or so I have believed.
“Come unto me, all you that are weary”
What might that look like for us to come unto Jesus? Although it is a free gift, we are being asked to lay our heavy burdens down. And sometimes that is the hardest work of all, to give to God what we are carrying. And especially in this time, I think giving to God needs to come in the form of lament. Lament is a cry to God and a cry about God. It is, also, a cry for God. We cry out to God to bring about change in the future that is yet to come. We cry out to God to seek answers. And we cry out to God in an act that seems like complaint but is really an act of faith and not despair.
Lament says that not all is right with the world. Lament allows everything hidden to be brought into the open. There is so much to cry out about and, more specifically, to cry out about to God. Theologian, Nicholas Wolterstorff, wrote these words that are helpful as they confirm the vastness of one’s need for lament.
“Suffering is the shout of “No” by one’s whole existence to that over which one suffers – the shout of “no” by nerves and gut and gland and heart to pain, to death, to injustice, to depression, to hunger, to humiliation, to bondage, to abandonment.” (Wolterstorff, Nicolas, Lament for a Son. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987, 96)
This is a helpful as it shows how the whole person is involved in the act of suffering. And it shows how strong the desire is for healing, for freedom, and for renewal. Even when the voice is silent, the body still cries out. And when there is nowhere to direct that impulse toward freedom, weariness sets in.
To truly seek Jesus’ offer to come to Him, all who are weary, is to honestly share the lament that hides under the surface. Now it is time to lament. It is time to make possible the move to an attitude of expectation from an attitude of despair, denial, or defeat. It is time to lament so that we might see a future. And it is time to lament so that we might experience the possibility of something new, even as the outside looks like nothing has changed.
Now is the time to ask God to lift our heavy burdens so that we might receive God’s rest. Now is the time to seek the assurance of God’s presence on this journey so that we can continue walking. We need to know that we are never alone.
Our emotions are God-given for the healing of God’s world. And for those who feel so alone in this journey, know that there is One who has been there before, who has experienced what we have experienced, and who suffers alongside us as he suffered once and for all.
And so my friends, as these wearisome days continue, may we know that there is One who longs to give us rest. May we know that there is One to whom we can lay our burdens down. And may we, whether together or apart, begin the cry of Lament. For in our lament to God, God brings life to us. Amen.