Are there moments in the Christmas season where all you can think is, “Lord, I’m tired.”? I’ve been there, especially during Christmases that have occurred in the midst of trying seasons for our family. Even in Christmases that we don’t have particularly trying circumstances, one thing I’ve learned as an adult is that though Christmas is fun, it’s also a lot of work. There’s gift buying, wrapping, Christmas cards, baking, extra events, and more. I love all of these things, but I think if we’re not careful, we can spend this season more weary than joyful. In these moments when I’ve prayed, “Lord, I’m tired,” he constantly brings to mind, “Come to me…”.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus speaks to our tired and weary souls. He says, “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.”
Let’s start with Jesus’ first 3 words, “Come to me…”. These are life-changing words. The beauty of Christmas is that Jesus came to us so that we can come to him! So, first, have you come to Jesus for salvation? Have you come to realize your sin and that the only way to be forgiven, redeemed, and rescued from it is through coming to Christ? At Christmas, we focus on the birth of Christ. But we must also keep in mind Easter- Jesus’ death and Resurrection. On the cross, Jesus took the punishment for sins that we deserve, and through his Resurrection, he forever conquered death, sin, and the grave. Those who come to Christ for salvation are forgiven and promised eternity with Christ. If you haven’t accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, may today be the day of your salvation! Come to Jesus! These promises and truths throughout the rest of this article are only for those who have come to Christ for salvation.
For those who have come to Christ for salvation, this command to “Come to me…” is still relevant. Yes, we’ve come to Christ for salvation, but what about on a day to day basis? When the Christmas to-do list is overwhelming, who do we go to? When the thought of Christmas brings heartbreak because we’re grieving or life isn’t what we thought, who do we go to? On just a bad day, who do we go to? Often, we turn to chocolate, social media, TV, a book, a nap, a bath, a run, etc. These things are nice, but they don’t offer the rest and peace that Jesus does. In this Christmas season, let’s obey this command and go to Christ. What does this practically look like? It’s prioritizing time in his Word, despite this busy season. It’s turning our hearts to him in prayer as our go-to response to stress or problems. It’s meditating on his Word throughout the day, surrounding ourselves with believers who point us to Christ, listening to Christ-centered music, and more. It’s knowing Christ is our only hope and satisfaction, not anything else of this world.
When we come to Christ, we receive his rest. Reading our Bibles and praying won’t magically erase our to-do lists or fix our problems, but it can help reorient our hearts on Christ, which brings peace and joy. Truly, the rest that Jesus offers is far better than even the best Sunday afternoon nap. His rest is eternal, and he gives it to the “weary and heavy laden.” So if you’re tired of struggling with sin, feel condemnation, shame, etc., then Jesus’s rest is for you! When we come to Christ for salvation, he takes care of our biggest problem, our sin. Even when we’re bone-tired from living in this fallen world, we have spiritual rest because we know our sin has been cared for by the cross of Christ. So, when we long for a nap, or hope to check everything off our Christmas to-do list, we can remember the eternal rest we have in Jesus Christ.
In verses 29-30, Jesus continues to offer us something beautiful. He tells us to learn from him. That begs the question, who do we learn from? Do we learn from Pinterest, feeling pressure to have the perfect home? Do we learn from this world, feeling pressure to do “all the things” and break “all the glass ceilings”? Do we learn from unrealistic expectations to have the perfect Christmas tree, to do ALL the Christmas activities with our family, and to have the perfect wrapping? The list could go on with lies we learn from this world. Or, do we learn from Christ? When we learn from Christ, we learn his yoke is easy and his burden is light. 1 John also tells us that his commands aren’t burdensome. Jesus never commanded us to do all the things. He commands us to come to him and learn from him. His calling on our lives to love him and love others is a high one, but when we stop looking at things of this world and start coming to Christ and obeying him, we find wonderful, immense joy! Jesus’s commands aren’t drudgery. They bring freedom. When I truly think about Christ, coming to him, learning from him, and living under his authority, this is how it brings me (and you) rest this Christmas-
- My identity is in Jesus (Eph. 1:3-14), and my gift wrapping skills don’t affect it.
- Jesus commands me to disciple my kids, but he never commands that they must sit perfectly still. We can do family devotions in the midst of wiggles. We can have Jesus conversations as they also talk about monster trucks.
- Jesus commands me to show hospitality. This requires opening my home to love and serve others well. It doesn’t require the perfect decor or all the Hot Wheels tracks to be put away.
I’m not sure how practically this might look for you as we approach Christmas, to truly come to Jesus for rest and learn from him. Maybe it looks like asking for help. We love to be independent (okay maybe that’s just me), but ya know what? Jesus actually calls us to be dependent. So, maybe it looks like delegating your Christmas to-do list. Maybe it looks like being more bold as we encounter friends and family and pointing to CHRIST at Christmas, not the other bells and whistles of the season. Truthfully, this part is between you and the Lord. This Christmas, come to Jesus. Learn from Jesus. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
This article was adapted from a talk I gave at a women’s ministry Christmas event I gave in 2020. That was a particularly trying year for our family, but I praise God for teaching me this lesson that has remained with me even after that tough season.