Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Martin Luther King, Jr. in Stride Toward Freedom, 1957
“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
A yoke is a wooden beam used to connect two large animals together to carry heavy farm loads or plows. If one animal were to carry the load solo, the weight would mostly likely be too much for the animal to carry. When the two are yoked, the load doesn’t lessen, but it certainly feels lighter by carrying it together.
Jesus invites us to be yoked to him. This invitation from Jesus is interesting: he doesn’t offer complete freedom from the load of struggles and hardships but a companion along the way who seeks to teach us in the midst of our struggle. Under Jesus’ yoke, we learn how to care for ourselves and how to find ways not to let our struggles completely wear us out.
It’s also a shift for us to think about carrying the struggles that are important to Jesus instead of the struggles we place on ourselves. Here, Jesus doesn’t say, “Let go and let God” — instead he says, “Struggle with the things that matter most to me.”
Faithful Christ, hold me close to you always as I seek to care about the things that matter most to you. With you beside me, I am grateful nothing you call me to do is too much to bear. Amen.
It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:
I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
from “What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel?” by Fred M. Rogers, 1968