Originally published Wednesday, 20 January 2021.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
This is probably one of the best, and most comforting, Scriptures in the entire Bible. Come to me. There is hope. There is rest waiting for you and me. Oh, how our weary souls need solace, peace, and true rest. The weight of the world is often seemingly resting on our shoulders. The burdens of financial pressures, parenting woes, unreasonable supervisors, gossiping neighbors, troubled marriages, and health concerns can be overwhelming. The exhaustion of wanting to have and do it all, while having the perfect work-life balance, is ever-present in most of our lives. The very idea of sitting at the feet of Jesus, not focused on our own problems, worries or concerns, sends chills down my spine and an unexplainable peace over me, as I think of it. That type of peace and rest is, in fact, available to us, as Believers, every single day. So, how do we simply pray and leave the burdens?
It was some years ago, when I was struggling during a particularly overwhelming period of time in my life, that I was praying about this very thing. I would pray, “Lord, I know your yoke is easy, but how do I let it go and not keep picking it back up?” This immediate vision came to me. I was walking along a dirt road and I was carrying some type of heavy bags. Every few minutes, I would pick up another heavy bag, until I was at the point of being barely able to move. Then, a man came driving by with a truck and shouted, “Need a lift?” And I responded, “No, I’ve got it.” He drove away shaking his head. It was as if the Lord was showing me that His promises of rest are available every day and yet, I choose not to give my cares to him.
In a practical sense, there are four things the Bible teaches on how to lay down the burdens. Take a look at Philippians 4:67 (NLT).
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done. Then, you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
There are four steps in these verses that give us clear directions on how to experience this precious peace and lighten our burdens as Jesus promised.
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1. Do not worry about anything.
The Scripture does not say not to worry about anything, except if you have cancer, a really difficult life, a failing marriage, a broken heart, legal trouble, death in the family, financial challenges, or any number of other things. It says not to worry about anything. Now, this one is hard. Most of us have been conditioned to worry, since we were small children. From childhood you heard your parents say things that exhibited worry and fret. It’s the way of the world and certainly, what we have been conditioned to do. But the Holy Spirit gives us self-control. We can control our thought pattern. When worry enters your mind, commit to training your thought life to immediately respond, “Nope, this is not how I have been created. I am not a creature of worry. I am a creature of faith.” This must become your constant prayer.
2. Pray about everything.
In the Philippians 4:6b, it begins “instead.” In other words, in lieu of. Instead of choosing to worry about things, choose to pray about everything. Detail the nuances of your life before your Father. Tell Him about the challenges you face. Tell Him about the fears that keep resurfacing. He cares about the things that concern you. Bring them before Him. Pray about everything and then give it to Him in trust that He will handle it. Stop talking about it to others. Stop obsessing over it. Stop letting it consume your days and thoughts and peace. Give it to Him and then keep giving it to Him. It may make take you a thousand times of giving it to Him to condition yourself not to keep taking it back. We simply cannot handle it. We are not big enough, smart enough, or powerful enough; the fact is, honestly, we were not built to carry this load. But oh, how our Heavenly Father is!
3. Tell God what you need.
Be specific. Father, I need rent money for this month. I have been working faithfully and the medical bills have mounted. Help me to see your hand in this. Move the mountain. Tell Him and then have the faith to see Him do it. Be consistent, persistent, and insistent. You have access to the very throne of God. You are the head and not the tail. You are a city on a hill. Your Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Is anything too hard for him? Of course not. Keep talking. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep praying.
4. Thank Him for all He is done.
Begin to praise the past provision. Thank Him for His faithfulness, His sustaining power, His grace, and his death on the cross. Begin with the details of your life. Thank Him for your car, housing, children, friends, church, and safety. Thank Him for your health, your spouse, your family, and job. The list of gratitude should be endless. Fill your spirit with thanksgiving and praise. Begin to worship Him in all His goodness. Despite the problems you face, He is good and faithful. Despite the heartache you fill, He is still the healer, the peace-giver, and the sustainer of all things. Despite your weakness and feelings of being unable to move on, He is strength. Keep thanking Him.
Do you know what the Bible says after all that? “And Then…” It is after those four steps are completed you will experience peace that exceeds everything and anything we can understand. As we condition our hearts and minds to fully surrender to these four steps, we begin to see God’s hand at work in those difficult areas of our lives. Now, let’s be perfectly clear, I do not pretend that building this habit is will be easy, particularly if you have had decades to practice worry! But it is attainable.
As Believers, we posse a different type of hope that the world does not have or understand. We have peace that has been gifted to us through Jesus Christ. If we find ourselves bundled on the floor somewhere like unbelievers with no hope every time challenges come, then what makes us different than them?! We have the treasure trove of goodness before us! This world is hard, messy, cold and sometimes heavy. But the promise that as we continue to seek God’s will and His Kingdom, we will have special rest is truth for our lives. Begin to pray about this even now that God would give you the self-control to stop the worrying, the patience to wait on a solution to the problem, the faith to continue pressing in and believing, even when everything around you seems to screaming otherwise.
Be reminded that He, who promises, is faithful. Be reminded that the same God who rescued you from THAT thing – that thing in your past that was hard and heavy – will, in fact, rescue you from THIS thing. It will not be in your timing or your way, but it will be perfect and the best part? The end result is always beauty for the ashes of hurt, pain, and disappointment. The end result is always better than we could have ever orchestrated.
Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. Her personal story has been featured in hundreds of media venues including The New York Times, Daystar Television, The 700 Club, and many others. She is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and currently serves more than 1,500 churches.
The Life of a Single Mom has served 406,000 single mothers over the last decade and counting. Maggio is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Ben White
Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.
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