For many, today is a hard day. I use “today” loosely, because, whenever you’re reading this, someone is burying a loved one, struggling with anxiety or depression, trying to figure out how to make life work after a devastating loss and a number of other things besides. We’re told “you can make it if you keep struggling,” but even those who’ve “made it” by the world’s standards look at all their wealth and come up empty. And why? Because this life is hard, the world we live in is broken, and sin an death run rampant. You might say “you’re just using Christian terms to oversimplify our situation, here!” I’d have to disagree. Sin is a term where people think we do something against God, but it’s also done against one another. When we hurt one another, harm one another, take advantage of the poor, sick and needy, that, too, is sin. And so we’re buried under the weight of our choices, the hurts people inflict upon us, and the brokenness of our world by way of disease and disaster.
We were never meant to carry these weights, and no matter what wickedness we’ve done, there’s a God who is waiting to forgive. While we must carry the consequences of our works according to this life, we’re promised peace now and complete freedom from it in the next. What we must do to attain this is to come to Jesus Christ. Jesus, fully God, came to live as one of us, fully human. It is a mystery I do not understand, but I know is true. He lived perfectly, according to the design of God, obedient to the Father in every way, and He died, bearing the entire weight of sin and the wrath of God against it Himself. Because of His perfect life, He alone could do this! And this sacrifice set us free from the burden of sin. He died, and was buried, and on the third day rose again, lifting the curse and oppression of death. Because Jesus rose, we too shall rise some day, and in this life be born again, a new creation in Christ Jesus. Cast all your cares on Him, for He alone can carry them.
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 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.”
1 Peter 5:6-11
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.