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someone who is struggling

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Welcome to our second in our series called ‘What would Jesus say’… and this week we are thinking about ‘ what would Jesus say to someone who is struggling’.

1 - Tiered and Weary

I was thinking about a good illustration to help us think about the idea of ‘struggling’ and then I remembered that it was my wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago.
The link between marriage and struggling is entirely coincidental, honestly.
I want to tell you about our honeymoon...
February,
Lake District,
snow, blizzard.
Reasonably equipped, knew what I was doing.
But it got me thinking that life is a bit like
...being lost in some remote mountains.
you’ve walked for hours,
it’s cold and it’s snowing.
Night is not far away,
and you have no idea where you are,
or how to find shelter or safety, let alone get home.
Your mobile phone is dead.
You have blisters,
no food left,
no tent,
the map has blown away,
your dog is injured and needs carrying.
At this point you wish you had a Jack Russel , not a St Bernard.
The only thing you can do it painfully trudge in one direction,
just blindly hoping that you’ll find a house or road,
rather than a cliff or a flooded river before it’s too late.
But if you’re honest, you have no hope at all.
If you are visiting us today, and you are struggling with life, perhaps life feels a bit like that. Lost, with no hope.
Or perhaps you are fairly regular here, but you don’t profess to follow Jesus, but life is a struggle for you as well.
Or perhaps you are regular here who does follow Jesus. Well we too are probably struggling with life in some way or another.
You see, when it comes to struggerling, we are all friends here.
We share that common curse of humanity.
We all experience different struggles,
disease
abuse
depression
parenting
not being able to have children
debt
addiction
abandonment
bereavement
blisters, cold and an injured dog on a mountain.
or simply the hard hard grind of life.
We all seemingly have different thresholds,
But we all share a common understanding that life brings suffering.
Perhaps your life is like being lost in some remote mountains. We’ve walked for hours, it’s cold and it’s snowing. Night is not far away, and we have no idea where we are, or how to find shelter or saftey. Our mobile phone is dead. We have blisters, no food left, no tent, the map has blown away, your dog is injured and need carrying. You wish you had a pug, not a St Bernard at this point.
Perhaps some of you have not experienced too much yet,
but if there is one testimony common to all humanity,
The only thing you can do it painfully trudge in one direction, just blindly hoping that you’ll find a house or road, rather than a cliff or a flooded river before it’s too late.
it is that struggles will come your way.
And I think there are 2 ways main way we deal with it:
1 - We surrender to it - admit that we are at a loss as to how to defeat suffering.
We know it’s hard,
we are often at our wits end.
We desperately hope that one day it will all get better,
but ultimately,
we know even if it does,
something else will begin a whole new world of suffering.
And at the end of the day,
we’ll die from something anyway.
We are weary and tired.
It might even be escapism, perhaps mentally or even physically, pursuit of fitness (((((, mediitation, sport?, fix one thing at a time but confident of victory (IVF, surgery etc)))))
Some of us have perhaps even turned to additions to dull the mental or physical pain.
Some have simply decided life is rubbish.
Many of us will simply strive to deal with one suffering at a time,
hoping to make it though to the next problem.
That doesn’t sounds as weak as it may at first. This I think is how most of the world deals with suffering.
2 - We believe we have overcome it - this is to have the answers,
have that positive state of mind that we can win this battle of suffering.
I don’t mean the one off suffering,
like we just mentioned,
dealing with one thing at a time,
I mean we have conquered suffering.
We’re above it.
We might believe ‘love can fix everything’.
Or, ‘it’s all in the mind’.
It’s the hight of positive thinking and the self help mantras.
You can be anything you want to be,
overcome anything you face,
simply by believing you can, or have.
It’s the spiritual escapism side of yoga,
that empties the mind of this world and allows you freedom.
It’s meditation that connects you with a mystical side of life,
to escape real life.
or it’s religion that promises a wonderful life.
I wonder which category best describes you?
1 - Have you surrendered to struggles, dealing as best you can (or not) with each as they come, but knowing you will never be free, you are weary and would love some rest for your soul.
2 - Have believe you have overcome struggles, you are free and rested.
I’d suggest that most of us are in category 1,
and even those who think (or would like to be in catagory 2)
have found their struggles keep coming.
Catagory 2 in fact is the best the world has to offer, and it leaves everyone sorely lacking.
It still offers no long-term hope.
You may imagine that you are fine,
but you are still lost on a mountain, with no way home.
So, What would Jesus say to someone who is struggling?
Would his answer be one more offering to the world’s cures for struggles?
One more self-help mantra?
or could it change our lives?
What would he say to those of us who are weary and tired of life?
Well, we don’t have to guess, we have his exact answer to this question, and it’s in Matt 11v28-30
Matthew 11:28–30 NIV - Anglicised
“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.”
Doesn’t that sound wonderful!?
Mountain rescue has found you.
A team of strong and well equipped men and women have come to your rescue.
They are smiling,
they have hot chocolate,
warm clothes,
a sledge for your injured dog
and a warm embrace for you.
Most importantly they know exactly where they are,
and how to get you to safety.
How to get you home.
You have been rescued.
All that anxiety and weariness in your soul has found rest.
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful feeling?
The question is, is it true. Do we really find rest in Jesus?
Christians here today, you might also be wondering,
how come my life still feels like a struggle.

2 - What does the ‘rest’ of Jesus look like?

And if you don’t follow Jesus, how can you find this rest?
Non-Christians, you

3 - How do I find ‘rest’ in Jesus?

Well lets answer those 2 questions breifly.

2 - What does the ‘rest’ of Jesus look like?

Let’s start by saying that Jesus does not promise to remove all struggles from your life.
Not only does the experience of Christians over centuries tell us that,
but Jesus doesn’t actually say that.
Have a look again at v29 of Matt 11.
Matthew 11:29 NIV - Anglicised
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.
Jesus offers us rest for our souls, not rest from our struggles.
This is where our mountain rescue illustration helps us again.
You see the mountain rescue team represent a certain hope.
You have been rescued, you will get home.
If they find the lost walker - they never fail to get them home.
You have had that massive burden of fear and anxiety of not knowing what’s going to happen removed from you.
Your soul, now has rest.
But, the blisters are still there,
your dog is still injured,
you still have to follow them for the long walk out of the mountains.
The struggles are still there,
but they now have a radically different effect on you.
Rather than compounding your fear of the future.
Rather than compounding your fear of the unknown, of likely death,
These struggles are now ‘light and momentary’,
as you look forward to getting home and all things being good again.
The struggles of this life are very real, they do hurt,
but if you don’t know Jesus,
they are like a vicious circle making everything worse and worse.
They compound your fear of the future.
As you deal with one struggle, it only fills you with dread for what is next.
And after it all, you face death itself, a struggle no-one can overcome.
There is no hope, and each struggle reminds you of that.
But with Jesus,
our struggles are still very real,
very painful,
very hard,
BUT, they are no longer compounding our fear of the future.
With Jesus, our soul has rest,
our struggles,
You see death for the Christian
despite their great pain,
are also ‘light and momentary’ when we compare them against what we know for certain is to come.
Jesus will get us home.
Not home to WP, that would still be depressing,
but home to eternity with our loving Father God.
Those that come to Jesus have a certain hope that they will know God and live with him forever.
Matthew 11:27 NIV - Anglicised
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Jesus reveals the eternal love of God to us, to our souls!
Fear is gone, struggles are no longer the only certainty in life!
This is no self-help scheme or emptying of the mind
to kid ourselves that we have overcome struggles.
This is no quick fix for each struggle as they come up.
No, this is the promise of a refreshed, and rested soul in the midst of trouble and strife.
Jesus says it himself by using the imagery of a yoke.
A yoke is the large collar put over the necks of oxen to tow a plough.
It is heavy and burdensome, wearisome.
Jesus doesn’t say, you will have no yoke, he says v30, you will have a different sort of yoke,
Matthew 11:30 NIV - Anglicised
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
You will still plough the field,
but it no longer gets heavier and heavier, it is light and easy.
Your struggles will be real,
but you can know that the future is wonderful and glorious.
You will spend eternity with God.
Isn’t this something we all want?
Hope, rest for your soul?
Christian’s, we should not underestimate the great fear that exists in the world about the future.
To have no hope is a terrifying prospect. Why live at all?
But to know Jesus, and to follow him,
to take his yoke upon yourself, to see that Jesus is gentle and humble,
to receive the rest for your soul that he gives,
what a thing to consider, and give thanks for.
You can have rest for your soul today,
a certain hope for eternity,
to live in joy and peace with God.
Struggles now, yes, but in the light of perfection for eternity.
This is not wishful thinking, it is rest for our souls.
If you need proof, then ask a Christian friend here today, if deep down, they have this confidence and rest in their souls that Jesus will take them home.
We believe Jesus died on the cross to take away all the fear and death that the world has.
We believe that he rose again, conquering the last great struggle of life, death itself.
And he does not Lord that over us as he would be right to do,
He says to us gently and humble,
Matthew 11:28 NIV - Anglicised
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
matt 11
So, that leaves us with the final question,

3 - How do I find ‘rest’ in Jesus?

Well here is the really good news for those of us who are struggling with life.
To those of us who know they don’t have the answers to life.
To those of us who have perhaps even tried:
meditation,
or yoga,
or a religion or 2
and found they still don’t deliver.
To those of us who are all to aware
that we are not that wise or learned
when it comes to the big picture of what life is all about.
To those of us who know they have nothing left to give to anyone, let alone God.
To those who are like ‘little children’,
longing for someone to hold us,
to give us rest,
to say, you have been rescued,
I will lead you home.
Here is the good news:
Matthew 11:25 NIV - Anglicised
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
You see,
the people in Jesus’ time were no different to us.
They too had struggles.
But some would claim they had all the answers.
In fact it was the religious leaders,
who said, if you only follow these rules and do this and do that,
then you wouldn’t have struggles or burdens.
It was the wise leaders,
the guru’s the self-help authors,
the wise the learned.
We have conquered this life, we know what it’s all about.
But they had missed the obvious - they were still lost on the mountain,
They believed the lies and false wisdom of the world.
They had missed the fact that only God can save.
They had missed that it is only coming to Jesus, the son of God,
with simple and empty hands,
like little children come to their father or mother and hold out their arms,
that we will find meaning in life.
Little children who hold out their arms and simply say’
Please love me, please help me, please care for me’.
And as any loving parent would do, Jesus replies.
Matthew 11:28 NIV - Anglicised
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
You see, rest and hope for eternity is a free gift.
It cannon be earned.
You cannot find it through wisdom or study.
It is freely given to all who are humble enough to ask.
I don’t know about you, but that is good news.
To refuse is to say to the mountain rescue team when they arrive, how dare you!
As if I need help, I’ve got this sorted thank you.
I have my own plan, my own way, my own ideas.
BUt our way is
“But we came for you,
we want to rescue you.
We have fought the elements and given up the comfort of home to come out here for you.
All you have to do is see that we care for you,
accept the rest on offer, and follow us.
Life will still be hard, you still have to walk out of the mountains, but we never fail.
We will take you home, just follow.”
That is Jesus’ message to you today, Christian or non-Christian.
I have left the comfort of home for you, I have left heaven for you,
left the comfort of being with my Father God.
I have battled the struggles of life,
just like you, I even died for you on the cross.
I am here for you,
Come, all who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest for your soul.
I will be by your side in the struggles,
I will carry you when you can’t walk,
I will push you when you need a push,
I will get to home to your father in heaven.
That is rest for your soul.
All you need to do is trust and follow me.
I never fail,
there is no other way,
I am gentle and humble in heart,
my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
If you are sturggerling today, Jesus IS saying to you....
Matthew 11:28 NIV - Anglicised
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
The question for you is, Will you?
If you want to, then say this prayer with me now by saying amen at the end, and then please do talk to the person you came with today, or speak to me after the service, we would love to pray for you and encourage you.
Please love me, please help me, please care for me’.
, then I guess you might be feeling awkard right now. We all know you have problems.
I don’t know what they are
The New American Commentary: Matthew 2. Opposition Experienced in Christ’s Mission (11:1–12:50)

“Little children” refers to those who respond to God by acknowledging their dependence on him (cf. comments under 18:4). The “wise and learned,” as the opposite category of persons, must therefore represent those who feel they have no need for God

The New American Commentary: Matthew 2. Opposition Experienced in Christ’s Mission (11:1–12:50)

Jesus equates the Christian life with spiritual rest.

The New American Commentary: Matthew 2. Opposition Experienced in Christ’s Mission (11:1–12:50)

Christ offers work that is refreshing and good (more literal than NIV “easy”) because it brings salvation.

The New American Commentary: Matthew 2. Opposition Experienced in Christ’s Mission (11:1–12:50)

Jesus did not escape the hard life, but he could experience rest and refreshment in its midst. Christians are not promised freedom from illness or calamity, but they may experience God’s sustaining grace so that they are not crushed or driven to despair (2 Cor 4:8–9).

The New American Commentary: Matthew 2. Opposition Experienced in Christ’s Mission (11:1–12:50)

The rest Jesus offers his disciples enables them to overcome a certain measure of “fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and meaninglessness in the joy and peace of God’s very presence in Jesus Christ.”

The New American Commentary: Matthew 2. Opposition Experienced in Christ’s Mission (11:1–12:50)

The invitation to come to Christ remains for all today, but now as then it requires the recognition that persons cannot come by exalting themselves (recall v. 23) but only by completely depending on and trusting in Christ.

xxx

Jesus is calling anyone who is wearied with life’s burdens

“I will refresh you

xxx

It was not that he demanded less from his followers, for the Sermon on the Mount shows that he looked for more. But it was of a different kind and in a different spirit so that it was kindly, not a burden.

xxx

Because of what he is in his innermost being, meek and lowly, those who come to him find rest. This does not mean that they are excused henceforth from hard work. On the contrary, to be a follower of Jesus is to enter a way of life that necessarily involves hard work. But there is nothing of the hopelessness about it that characterizes life for far too many of the world’s afflicted. The calling must be fulfilled, but there is rest for your souls (see Jer. 6:16, and for souls on 10:28). That is to say, those who bear Christ’s yoke know rest at the center of their being. They do not worry and fuss about what they are doing, for their commitment to their Savior means that they recognize his sovereignty over all and the fact that he will never call them to something that is beyond their strength. Paradoxically those who take Christ’s yoke on them have rest, rest now and eternal rest in the hereafter.

xxx
2 Corinthians 4:8–9 NIV - Anglicised
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
IMPORTANT SUMMARY

It adds up to an invitation to service indeed; Jesus is not calling people to lives of careless ease. But it is service for which they will be glad. It will be a delight, not a painful drudgery.

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