“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.” – Christ Jesus (Matthew 11.29-30)
Do you believe what the Lord places upon you is easy and light? Do you really?
Evidently Moses did not, based on his angry rant against God (Numbers 11.11-12). Paul pointed out that he’d frequently endured shipwreck, harassment, beatings, emotional distress, and nearly died (2 Corinthians 11.23-28). All of the Apostles were killed for their faith, with the exception of one who died in exile. There’s no getting around it: Suffering for Christ is predicted for his followers (Romans 8.17; 2 Timothy 3.12).
None of which should come as any surprise, as the leader of the Christian faith himself endured extraordinary suffering. In case reading the Passion narrative found in the Gospels doesn’t quite convey this to your imagination, you might peruse a copy of A Doctor at Calvary by Pierre Barbet. A gruesome little book I added to my library a few years ago, it is one that I rarely pick up for obvious reasons. Barbet, a French surgeon, graphically describes what happens to a victim of crucifixion: shock, blood loss, suffocation, and more. Death on a cross was well-known to first-century Jews and all peoples under the boot of Rome; Christ knew this form of execution awaited him. He knew, and yet never wavered from his mission. And he had the temerity to tell us if we wish to be his followers, each of us must take up our cross, too.
None of this ‘easy’ or ‘light,’ is it? What, then, did Jesus mean?
Here’s what I think: When we find ourselves bearing an unbearable burden or a yoke that chokes, we must face one of two possibilities. Either it’s not from Christ to begin with, in which case get free from it. Or, realize He has far more in store for you than physical or psychological comfort – and when you endure in a Christlike fashion all the hardship and trial this world throws at you, the good that will eventually manifest will make the grief seem as nothing in comparison (Romans 8.18). You need God’s help to discern between these two, you have to have courage to take the right course of action, and you must not give up!