by Traci Jahnke
2017 is in the past and a new year has started. It is good to reflect and look back over the past year; there are always things to be grateful for. After review, a new year may bring new personal commitments and goals. It feels like a fresh slate, to start over and to make changes to better yourself, your family, your home, and your career.
But for some, 2017 included job loss, marital conflict, financial stress, parenting challenges, a new baby, health issues, death of a loved one, and many hurts and anxieties hidden away deep inside. For those, maybe the greatest hope for 2018 is to catch a break.
When there are so many troubles weighing on your mind and spirit, that your thoughts never stop, you feel completely overwhelmed, fragile, anxious, crushed, worn; rest for a weary soul may sound like exactly what you need for the next year.
Rest for a weary soul is not the same as a trouble-free 2018; God does not guarantee that. In fact, John 16:33 informs, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
What is this rest for the weary? And how do you get it? Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The Greek word for ‘give you rest’ is anapauo and it means to give intermission from labor or to refresh.
If 2017 was difficult and long, if it brought trial after trial, so that you could barely catch a breath, an intermission sounds good. This Bible verse says that God WANTS TO GIVE US THIS INTERMISSION or refreshment.
Surrender your worries, your hurts, your health, your grief, your marriage troubles, your finances, ALL to Him. Turn them over, lay them down (every morning if necessary), because you are not strong enough to bear them, but He is. Ask God for rest, for He will provide it.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is an eternal God,
the Creator of the whole earth.
He does not get tired or weary;
there is no limit to his wisdom.
He gives strength to those who are tired;
to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.
Even youths get tired and weary;
even strong young men clumsily stumble.
But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings,
they run without growing weary,
they walk without getting tired. Isaiah 40:28-31 NET
God never gets tired; He gives strength to those who ask; to those who have depleted all their own. If we try to carry and handle our burdens on our own, we will be weary, tired, and without hope. But if we trust God with our struggles, He will give us strength and energy to walk through it.
Our rest in God and surrender to Him also includes refreshment.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3 NIV
And when you ask for His rest and for His strength, you receive the most amazing gift: HOPE. It’s right there on the other side of the rest; God’s hope brings life and infuses our mind, heart, and soul.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; My hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5 NIV
No matter the trials, losses, conflicts, and betrayals of 2017, God’s hope can be yours. Why can we have hope?
“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!” Lamentations 3:19-23
The reason we have hope is because God’s love is never ending! God’s love and compassion for His people is inexhaustible! God’s faithfulness is perfect. We can have hope because God who is faithful will not abandon us. We have His presence, comfort, and peace. He is in control of every part of life and He is good. And we can have hope because those who belong to God will live forever with Him.
“So God has given both his promise and his oath.
These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie.
Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT
For those with weary souls from 2017:
Rest in God, surrender every hurt and problem, find refreshment and strength from Him, and take hold of a certain HOPE in 2018 that is found in GOD ALONE!