I’ve thankfully never had to use crutches. When you need crutches, crutches are invaluable. They allow you to take weight off an injured leg, knee, or foot and be more mobile than you could be otherwise. They help bear your “burden” when the lower part of your body can’t. That’s what they do for us. Then there is this Scripture:
Come to me, all 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, ESV
Jesus is saying here that when we are tired, He will give us rest. He will help us bear our burden. We read the first sentence. Then what we traditionally do is we read the next phrase, “Take my yoke upon you,” and skip to the following sentence. We miss, “and learn from me.” In other words, we like the rest part, where Jesus takes some of our load, but we don’t quote the learn from me part, probably because we’re not interested in learning. We’re just interested in relief. Jesus is promising us rest and relief, but there’s a catch: there’s learning to be done. We preach the rest and the relief, but we rarely preach the learning. In other words, we’re looking at Jesus as a crutch. However, He is no crutch.
Why are we weary? Is it because we’ve taken on more than we can do? Is it because we aren’t relying on God’s strength? Is it because we are holding on to something we shouldn’t? There’s usually a reason we are heavily laden, something that caused us to be in that state. What Jesus is proposing here isn’t just to solve the immediate problem, but to help us to understand why it is a problem in the first place. Jesus is interested in growing us. He is interested in molding us and changing us. He wants us to be more like Him, more effective for the Kingdom, and more about glorifying and honoring God than we are right now. Thus, while He offers to shoulder part of our burden, He does so by saying we also need to take time to learn.
When you’re feeling worn down and you decide to cry out to God for help, are you also crying out to learn from the Master? Often times our greatest struggles provide our greatest lessons. Times of turmoil help define who we are as people. Are we God’s or are we the world’s? Jesus wants to use these times for our benefit, to grow us, to make us more like Him. It’s our choice on how we respond. Do we want Jesus merely to be a crutch, which He won’t be, or are we willing to allow him to be the Teacher at a time when the lesson can impact us the most? The choice is yours.