When Disasters Keep Mounting: November Reflection

Each month, the Christian Civics Newsletter provides subscribers with a devotional reflection and prayer points to help connect your faith to the opportunities and responsibilities that citizenship opens up to us.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:28–30

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.”

Reflection

What do we do when disasters keep mounting? Flood damage in Houston. Earthquakes in Mexico City. Devastation in the Caribbean. Genocide in Myanmar. Mayhem in Las Vegas and Texas. Wildfires in California. Our sympathies rose, perhaps, at news of the first of these tragedies: We sent money, sponsored relief efforts, possibly even traveled to Texas to lend our expertise to lessen the suffering. But then came the next. And the next. And the next.

Jesus has work for us to do— yokes to shoulder that we may plow in the fields where he sends us. But notice, those yokes are bearable because they are of his making (not someone else’s) and he is gentle: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle.”

Burn-out isn’t the result of doing too much work, it’s the result of working for the wrong master and for the wrong reasons. Take, for example, people-pleasing: Perhaps you took on Puerto Rico relief in order to please someone—and now you are feeling pressured by someone else to respond to Las Vegas. Jesus tells us to love people—but he never tells us to please them. How about the yoke of “results”: The miseries of the Rohingya refugees may exhaust us even before we try to address them. But Jesus never put us in charge of outcomes.

Then there is the yoke of self-justification: We feel the pressure to care for the people because we are seeking by that care to prove that we are worthy and valuable people, or to somehow make up for a bad conscience. Jesus would never lay such a yoke on our shoulders. He lived, died and passed through hell to free us forever from the need to justify ourselves.

There is no simple formula for knowing precisely how Jesus wants us to care. But of this we can be sure: If our efforts to love our neighbors are beating us up, or if we are beating up others as we seek to follow Jesus, then we have taken on the wrong yoke—either we are doing the wrong thing, or we are doing it for the wrong reason, or both,

Jesus is gentle with us. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Prayer

This month…

  • Pray for the readiness to love your neighbor wherever and whenever Jesus wants you to, and for discernment to see those opportunities.
  • Pray for eyes to see the gentleness of Jesus towards you.
  • Pray for the right motives in your service and for the freedom, joy and energy that arise from them.

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