It seems that every year as children head back to school that there is at least one news story about the weight of their backpacks. Blame it on the scarcity of lockers, the thickness of textbooks, the amount of homework teachers assign, or students’ unwillingness to complete their work within class time, but there is some reason children are carrying more weight on their backs then medical professionals deem healthy. The concern, of course, is not only for the problems this will engender now, but for the lifelong implications of burdening their growing bodies with weight that they can’t yet handle.
Sometimes it can feel like we are carrying our own backpack full of burdens around. And yet, listening to some, it seems as if Christians should be exempt from such inconveniences. “Come to Jesus and you’re life will get better” they say. And while they are right, in a sense, it doesn’t mean that our problems will go away. In fact, Jesus has promised just the opposite. He tells His followers that they will have problems. Just as He was persecuted, so those who bear His name will be as well.
The difference, then, isn’t that Christians don’t have burdens; it’s that the burdens they carry are different. After all, Jesus didn’t say, “Come to me and I will take all the burdens away.” Instead, He said, “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 11:29-30; emphasis mine). The burden that Christians carry is the one that Jesus gives to us. Instead of carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, we know the One who holds the world is His hands. Because He is bearing that weight, the yoke He places on us is light.
Think of it this way – we know the One who controls the stars and the seasons, as well as the One who has cares about every sparrow that falls. Therefore, we don’t need to worry about trying to control and manipulate our lives to get what we want – a heavy burden that is impossible to bear. When a loved one is sick, we know that One that can heal, and even if He chooses not to do so, we can trust His loving provision. When we grieve, we do not do so as those who are without hope, because we know the One through Who there is eternal life. We still grieve, we still get sick, and we still have situations we can’t control, but the burden is lighter, because the heaviest part of the burden – the finality of death, the inability to heal, and the lack of control – all find their answer in Christ. He bears the heavy load that that we were not created to own.
For the near future, it seems that school children will still have heavy books that they need to carry. And until Jesus calls us Home, we will have some burdens that we need to bear as well. However, the Christian can trust that the burden they are called to carry is the one Jesus gives us, and that even under it, He has already promised that He will provide “rest for [our] souls.”