Kahlil Gibran observed, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” We must be able to contain a great deal of joy these days.
According to Quartz, less than half of America’s doctors are happy at work. Happiness ranges by specialty from a high of 43 percent for dermatology to a low of 24 percent for nephrology. A new national survey of law enforcement officers shows that the vast majority feel their jobs are harder than ever before. At least twenty groups have filed official permits in Washington DC for people planning to protest in the days surrounding the inauguration.
The World Happiness Report states that Denmark is the happiest nation on earth. Canada comes in sixth. The US ranks thirteenth. We are also less happy now than we were in 2007.
Does it feel like Friday the 13th, not just today but every day these days?
It’s hard not to let the cultural atmosphere dictate our attitude. So let’s watch Jesus confront controversial times. Then I hope you’ll accept a surprising invitation that will change your life and witness today.
In Matthew 10, our Lord sends his disciples into a culture that is opposed to his movement, knowing they will be “dragged before governors and kings for my sake” (Matthew 10:18). This is because he came not “to bring peace, but a sword” (v. 34). He faces questions to his Messianic legitimacy even from John the Baptist (Matthew 11:2–3) and is accused of being “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (v. 19). He denounces Capernaum, his adopted hometown, because of her unbelief (vv. 23–24).
Yet Jesus knows that he can trust his Father’s “gracious will” (v. 26) and that those to whom he has revealed the Father can trust him as well (v. 27). So he extends an invitation that must have shocked his disciples: “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” (Matthew 11:28–30).
Here those who serve Jesus learn seven remarkable facts: (1) The God of the universe wants a personal relationship with each of us; (2) we are under his direct leadership; (3) we serve no one but him; (4) we serve alongside others; (5) our work is in the field he determines, not the arena of our choosing; (6) our work accomplishes a larger purpose than we as “oxen” can know; (7) our work is not finished until our Master says so.
If your burden is too heavy today, you’re wearing the wrong yoke. Now the burden is on you to shift the burden. Tell Jesus right now that you will serve him with your day wherever he leads, whatever the cost. Know that his yoke is better for you than any you can choose for yourself. And rejoice that your Master will use you to sow seeds of hope wherever you go in our troubled culture.
Do this now or you may not do it later. One psychologist tells her patients, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” But changed people change the world.