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. Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
A yoke is a wooden bar that joins the heads or necks of two animals, such as oxen or horses, allowing them to pull heavy loads and accomplish a difficult task more effectively. A younger animal is often paired with an older animal. Since the older animal has learned the work required of it, this helps the younger animal to learn more quickly. The older animal also knows the right paths to take and avoids stepping in holes, thereby protecting the younger animal from harm. When Jesus told his disciples to take on his yoke, this was the idea he wanted to convey to them; he wanted them to be trained by him, to go where he leads, because he knows the way to eternal life with God.
Over the years I have written about my husband's traumatic brain injury and the difficult spiritual lessons we have learned along the way. I am grateful God spared his life, and that he continues to heal. Even so, communication is difficult, and oftentimes takes a lot of effort to get a simple point across. The healing process is like watching grass grow; you don't see it happening, and then all of a sudden you realize it's grown! I struggle sometimes to be positive, to trust God through this trial, to not be discouraged or depressed, and to believe that God still loves me and hasn't abandoned us—but it is difficult! Many times I find myself in despair.
A few days ago as I was waking up, I found myself questioning the Lord, "If your yoke is so easy and your burden is light, then why am I having such a difficult time trusting you?"
Almost immediately, the reply came to my spirit, "I understand your suffering. I never said that life would be easy. Remember, I told you not to be surprised by the trials and sorrows of this life. Sin has left its mark on all of creation, which is why I came to earth. I understand suffering—your suffering! I know what you are going through. I am acquainted with grief—your grief! My yoke will not take away your suffering. But I promise to never leave you or forsake you. I will walk this path with you. Be strong, do not be afraid or terrified. The yoke I offer takes away an unbearable burden of winning God's favor. I have done this for you! My yoke requires nothing of you—you do not earn the Father's love. There is no other religion, master, or teacher who offers this to you. There are no actions to perform, no prayers to repeat, no mercies to give, no good things to do, that can make the Father love you more than he already does! My yoke is God's undeserved favor that saves you; it is a gift I have given to you! I have overcome the world. Trust me just a little while longer. I promise that I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. But know this, your trials will be used for good, they are not in vain; through them you will grow stronger in me, and be better prepared to help others who are also suffering."
Allow these thoughts to sink in! Have you taken the yoke of Jesus? Do you know
where you will spend eternity? Don't allow this question to go unanswered! Learn
"Dear God, slip Jesus' yoke over our shoulders; lead us in the paths you have chosen for us. Help us to remember that our trials are not a measure of your love or indifference, but are a result of our sin-broken world. Help us to keep ourselves yoked to you, and to offer your yoke of safety, security, healing, and hope to others. Amen."
Update December 2020: My husband, Bob, continues to improve. He understands more and is able to communicate better. God has been faithful to provide for us spiritually, emotionally, and financially in this trial. Bob still has many deficits to overcome. If you've read this far, we still need and appreciate your prayers!
Scripture references: Isaiah 53:3; Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5; Ephesians 2:8; John 16:33; John 14:3; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:4.
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