"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 (RSVCE)
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When Will the Rest Come?
I have thought often about these verses because, elsewhere in the Gospels, Christ makes it clear that following Him is not an easy road. For example:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”—Matthew 16:24 (RSVCE)
So is Christ contradicting Himself? Certainly not: the rest that Christ is speaking of in Matthew 11:28-30 is heavenly rest. It also reminds me that we can bring to him, through prayer, the things that burden us and we can ask him for assistance. We aren’t left alone in our struggles.
There is Still (Some) Earthly Rest
So, yes, following Christ is not easy. That’s not to say that Christians cannot feel moments of rest while on Earth. We can still find rest on the Sabbath. Also, on any day of the week, Christians can tap into an inner peace—a lighter burden—when they reflect on their identity as a son or daughter of God, when they pray to God, or when they reflect on their ultimate destination God has prepared for them: heaven.
“Life itself is like a wilderness journey toward a better land and like a week of labor that leads to a day of refreshment. Readers are urged to persevere in faith lest they fail to enter the rest prepared for them by God.”—Dr. Scott Hahn & Curtis Mitch, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament