A devotion by Pastor Wes Poole

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” NRSV

My heart is heavy this week. A dear friend lost his battle with cancer and passed on Sunday. I just found out last night. Today (Tuesday) would have been his 50th birthday. He was a fine and caring person; a gifted musician and teacher. His loss will be felt for years to come, as he touched many lives in this community. He helped bring art and beauty into a world that always needs those things. As a believer, I know that there is no cause to be concerned for his well being any longer. I will miss my friend terribly, but he is in God’s hands, and there is no better place to be. Right now though, knowledge isn’t enough, and tired clichés or platitudes most certainly aren’t enough. My heart is heavy, and comfort is elusive. The pain of grief really isn’t about the people we lose, but the ones left behind. The burden of grief is truly heavy, as we all know. I am grateful to have a church family who cares for one another, and for this opportunity to share my feelings with you. Sometimes, all we can do is push forward and let God, in His own way and time, allow healing to begin.

So the words of Jesus take on extra meaning for me right now, and I find myself reflecting on the variety of burdens we all carry. They can be collective, like the COVID weight we’re all shouldering, or individual grief, like illness and personal loss. Regardless of the circumstances, we carry pain with us all of the time. Sometimes it looms larger than others, but the human experience is rife with suffering. There is no sense in trying to deny it or pretend it isn’t there. We do however, as modern day followers of Jesus, have one recourse that cannot be denied or overstated. Jesus is with us always…and he understands suffering first hand. He shoulders those burdens with us, and never leaves our side. Here is the really important bit though, even when our faith and devotion might be at a low ebb, Jesus never repays that in kind. His love for us is never transactional. On the contrary, no matter low we may feel, his compassion and care are relentless! That is an astonishingly wonderful truth. We serve a God who has never stopped working on our behalf. St. Paul tells us in the 8th chapter of Romans that there is literally nothing in the vastness of the Universe that can separate us from His love for us in Christ Jesus. The Lord himself spells it out for us pretty clearly in Matthew 11. “Come to me, ALL you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” God does not make empty promises. Pain may always be a factor on this side of the next life, but thanks be to God, hope and comfort are ever present and always available. For now, regardless of my personal headspace or heart space, God’s grace is sufficient.

Let us pray…
God of healing, your love surpasses all earthly grief. We know that there are always many who need to feel the peace that can only come from you. When that peace seems to us to be far away, help us to remember and take to heart that you never are. As you have promised, as you have always done, you walk with us through this life into the next, turning mourning into dancing, and grief to joy. Inspire us to reflect your compassion to our brothers and sisters everywhere; for we ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Thanks for “listening”. Again, I appreciate being a part of such a caring family of faith. I covet your prayers for my friend’s family, and for the many, many people grieving his loss. May we always strive to bear each other’s burdens together, and to trust in God’s promise of healing.

Be well, be kind, and be safe!

Blessings always,
Pastor Wes †