Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rest for the human heart

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” 

Those are the words that are used in many churches as worship begins on Sunday morning, and they are the words that came to my mind during a wakeful period last night, particularly the phrase “Rejoice and be glad!”

Some days it seems very easy to “rejoice and be glad.”  As I look around the part of the world in which I live I can see many signs of God’s goodness in nature.  Time spent with my wife, our youngest daughter, our other children and grandchildren, our parents…these are often moments to be glad.  Events at work, time with friends, even time with strangers…all can bring moments of joy and gladness. 

But life isn’t always a bed of roses.  Not my life or anyone else’s.  There are times of disappointment and struggle.  Times of brokenness and pain.  Some people live in places that are so dark, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually, that I can’t even really comprehend how they manage from one day, or from one moment, to the next.   

We may find joy and gladness in our family, or our job or some other pursuit, but that joy is transient and will eventually end.  Similarly we may find respite from our pain in addictions, or seeking to make those around us feel worse than we are.  These moments of seeming respite are also temporary.  Our hearts long for more, they long for something eternal, a source of comfort and joy that has no end.

Augustine considered this in his Confessions, writing, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  Similarly, Pascal wrote in his Pensees, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

Both Augustine and Pascal point me back to the words of Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus says,

“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.”

Jesus invites us to give our burdens to Him.  He invites us to find our rest in Him.  He, and He alone, is the only place where we can find a sense of peace and comfort that has the power to hold us in every moment of our lives.  To firmly hold us in all of life’s goodness and in all of life’s trials.

Some of you reading this may already know the presence of Christ Jesus in your life, and I am thankful to God for that.  I hope that these words have encouraged you and that you are able to bring the peace and encouragement of Christ to those around you.

Others may be unsure of God’s love for them.  They may even deny the possibility that God could love them, or even that God exists.  If you are among those groups I want to assure you that God does exist and that His love can meet your deepest need.

A related thing that has been floating around in my mind the past few days has been the song Wonderful, Merciful Savior by Selah.  It is a beautiful song, both in words and music.  The words testify to the refuge and peace that are only known in God.  The chorus says,

“You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for”

Here is a link to the full lyrics, and here is a link to a version of the song I am particularly fond of.

May your heart find its rest in Christ Jesus, now and forever.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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