Crossroads: Our Burdens

Matthew 11:28-30

Your Story

Talk about a time when you carried something really heavy. Be specific about what it was and how you felt when you were carrying it.

My Story and the Bible Story

When I was a kid, we went to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. It was also a farm, and you could carry water, rake, hoe, and do other chores to see a bit of what it was like for the slaves who lived on the farm. I have a picture of me carrying a heavy wooden contraption with buckets on either side of it. This was carried across the shoulders so that a bucket hung on either side of you, helping you to balance enough to carry the water. For me, it wasn’t too heavy since there was no water, but I imagine it was heavy and hard to maneuver when the buckets were full. It could easily be a burden for the person carrying it, weighing heavily on their shoulders as they tried to get water back to the house. I tried to imagine carrying it back and forth many times a day. I would have been very tired by nightfall! Even just a little water in the bucket would feel like it weighed a ton. A person’s back and shoulders would be tired, and eventually they might start walking stooped over. It would have been a hard burden to bear.

Although people can’t see some of the burdens we bear, they can still be pretty heavy. Instead of carrying water, we carry things like guilt. Sometimes we feel guilty because of something we did. Even though we ask for forgiveness, the guilt doesn’t go away. It can start to feel heavier and heavier. We carry things like worry. If we worry all the time, it starts to feel too heavy. We carry things like pain. Sometimes, things happen that hurt our feelings. Maybe a friend was mean to you or a bully picked on you. Maybe people in your family fight all the time, or nobody wants to be your friend. When these things happen, they can really hurt us, and that pain can feel very heavy. Whatever burden we bear, it feels heavy. That’s part of why Jesus came.

Read Matthew 11:28-30.

A yoke is similar to the piece of wood that went over my shoulders and held the water buckets. It’s a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox to help the animal pull a heavy piece of equipment. We have invisible yokes that hold our guilt, our pain, and our worry, and they can get very heavy. But Jesus tells us to give him our burdens. He wants us to tell him what’s wrong. He wants to take away our guilt, our worry, and our pain, and he will give us rest! He will give us his yoke that is much easier to carry. Instead of being heavy, his is light. When Jesus takes away our guilt, our worry, and our pain, does that mean bad things will never happen? Does that mean we will never again feel guilty or worried? It doesn’t. There will still be times when we feel guilty. There will be times when we are worried about something. There will be times of pain and hurt. But Jesus reminds us that he is there with us. He’s waiting to take our burdens from us. All we have to do is pray and give them to him. When we do, we find peace and rest. It’s like we are trying to carry a piano (those are really heavy!) and Jesus swaps it for a newspaper. Our burdens become much lighter and we can find rest. That is great news!

Discussion and Prayer

  1. Ask your children if there are things that worry them. Ask them if they are carrying any pain. Listen intentionally as they share.
  2. Write about your pain, your worries, and any guilt you are feeling. Then, as a family, tear up the papers and throw them away or burn them (depending on the age of your children). Explain that God takes our burdens and throws them away. God gets rid of them so we can have peace.
  3. Pray, thanking God for giving us rest. Specifically give each of your burdens to God. Ask God for help in letting go of them.

Rev. Jessica Asbell is the Minister to Children and Families at First Baptist Roswell, where she has been serving since 2012. She has written the children’s curriculum for Smyth & Helwys’s Annual Bible Study for the books of Daniel; Ezekiel; Luke; Jonah; 1 Corinthians; 1, 2, 3 John and Jude; Colossians; The Story of Israel’s Ancestors: Living toward a Promise; and Where Faith & Family Meet: A Book of Weekly Devotions. She has also written for CBF’s Spark and Form and for Affect in CBF’s fellowship! magazine. Married to Jonathan Oravec, Jessica reads every chance she gets.

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