If the Yoke Is Easy, Why Am I so Tired?

“Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Although Jesus invites us to rest, many Christians spend their lives in frantic haste, rushing from one commitment to another, haunted by a sense of failure. These harried souls believe their hectic lifestyle is God’s will for them.  They read in their Bibles, “Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)  In response, they conclude that they should never say “no” to any request for help.  They also read, “Love does not insist on its own way…” (1 Corinthians 13:5)  Therefore, they abandon their own plans in order to go along with the wishes of others. When they read, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself…” (Luke 9:23) they  feel guilty about caring for their own needs.

Those who follow these beliefs soon find their lives in chaos. Unable to opt out of the plans that others make for them, they run in circles trying to fulfill the conflicting wishes of many different people.

Is this the kind of service that God wants from us?  Is this really what Jesus taught?  Did he intend that we should never disagree, never insist, never say “no”?

For answers to these questions, let’s look at the example of Jesus’ own life:

Is it wrong to express disagreement and disapproval?

And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said , “Get behind me, Satan!  For you are not on the side of God, but of men.” (Mark 8:32 & 33)

They came to Jerusalem, and Jesus entered into the temple, and began to throw out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those who sold the doves. (Mark 11:15)

“Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:33-35)


Should we always defer to other people’s plans for us?

So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing.  For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”  For even his brothers did not believe in him.  Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.  The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil.  Go to the feast yourselves; I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”  So saying, he remained in Galilee.  (John 7:3-9)

The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.  But He replied to them…”An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”  And He left them and went away.  (Matthew 16:1-4)

Should we say “yes” to every request for help?

And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.”  But he did not answer her a word.  (Matthew 15:22 & 23)

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha…So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.”…Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus…So when he heard that he was sick, he then stayed two days longer in the place where he was.  [He delayed two whole days before setting out to visit the sick man, and did not arrive until after the man had died.] (John 11:1-6)

Should we always put our own needs last?

Then he left the crowds and went into the house.  (Matthew 13:36)

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.  (Matthew 8:18-22)

Now when Jesus heard this (about the death of his cousin John), he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart.  (Matthew 14:13)

Jesus claimed that he came “not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Yet he was often uncooperative and sometimes downright confrontational. He spoke up clearly even when many found his words offensive. He said “yes” to some requests and “no” to others. He occasionally turned his back on crowds eager for his healing touch. How could he claim to be a servant, while refusing to do what other people wanted? Let’s explore our Lord’s journey and the clues he left regarding his reasons for acting as he did. If we follow him closely, we may find guidance for our own lives of service.    Read next section…