Rest and peace are, perhaps, the most elusive elements in cases of oppression. There is no rest. There is no peace. Women and children are isolated with few resources against ravenous wolves. There are those that believe this is normal. Jesus says otherwise.
When I am fighting sin and injustice, although I long for a place of rest, I find myself resisting it. Instead, I want to fix, change, restore, collude. When God is actively working to change me by His Word and Spirit, my goal is not revenge, but I do want justice. I don’t want destruction, but I do long for peace. And the struggle between the desire for justice and peace in a world of chaos and pain lacks resolution. There is constant dissonance and a desire for the outcome of “right.”
God’s answer, over and over, is most often, “not yet” with this generous, kind offer:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 CSB)
He does not offer an outcome, but I have seen Him provide escape and relief. He does not remove all suffering, but He makes way for sowing and reaping. He uses His people and the authorities He has put in place to protect the vulnerable. And beyond that, He cares for, nurtures, and gives rest to my soul.
Regardless of circumstances or outcomes, He remains. He is, even now, the Shepherd that leads me, cares for and knows me, and meets my needs. He has never asked me to do it on my own. He has never given me personal responsibility for the outcome. He has never said, “I told you so.” Or “If only you had (fill in the blank).”
Whatever the pain, injustice, or loss, He knows. He sees. He hears. He loves. He gives. He restores. He blesses in the midst of the storm. Through the storm. And on to the other side. When Peter joined Jesus that night and walked on water, the storm did not end until they got back in the boat. (Matthew 14:33)
He does not offer rest when I am wrestling, striving, and tugging on my own, but He hears my cries. He offers Himself and His presence as rest.
Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too wondrous for me.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted my soul
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like a weaned child.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
both now and forever. (Psalm 131 CSB)
The nursing child is impatient, pulling at buttons, whining, desperate for what only its mother can provide. The weaned child is content with the supporting, loving presence of its mother. Calm. Comforted. Relaxed.
I am learning to trust, to rest, to let go… and with rest comes peace.