Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Rest for the Weary

In the past few weeks, I have had several conversations, both in-person and via social media, about a dementia diagnosis. Some of these conversations are about relatives, some about friends, all of them sobering. Because of my life experience, I think not only about the one diagnosed, but also about the loved ones who are looking at a long journey of care.

It is not just a memory challenge diagnosis that creates caregivers. It could be an illness where the result will not be known until after months of treatment or a diagnosis where the outcome will not change, but the uncertainty is found in what skills will be lost and when these losses will happen. It doesn’t matter if the diagnosis is handed to a spouse, a child, a parent, or a dear friend; in that instant, both a care receiver and a care giver have taken each other’s hand and begun a journey neither of them requested.
Recently, I was involved in an engaging social media discussion regarding speculation on Jesus’ voting preferences. Those participating chose wisely to avoid this issue and instead comments veered off in a different direction. I was struck by one person’s response where he asserted all of his votes spoke to a single issue. I found this a good place to drop out of the online discussion. But the idea of “single-issue” did provide much to think about on my morning walk.
Is Jesus a single-issue Savior?
In the politics of His time, the Pharisees were indeed single-issue people. Their mission was control, and this was reflected in everything they did from counting steps on the Sabbath to their questions attempting to trick Jesus.
Jesus was undoubtedly single-issue in terms of his mission. He came to seek and save the lost. However, His ministry was not limited to a single issue. He did not return illness to the woman healed by touching the corner of His robe, telling her that her Salvation was all she needed. He did not forgive the lame man and then walk away from the man's paralysis. Nor did He do no more than reassure the widow that her dead son was in a better place. Jesus was concerned with issues of this life as well as the outcome of the next life.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Consider the promises of this verse. When we leave the burden of our sin to Jesus, He replaces it not only with forgiveness, but rest. He does not say, “Your sins are forgiven; I leave you to live the rest of your poor miserable lives." 
He gives rest.
We may choose to ignore rest, preferring to cling to our guilt and shame, but Jesus cares how we feel when we are forgiven. He cares about our current life.
Caregivers and their loved ones live with an everyday, realistic, nitty-gritty view of both this world and the next. A devastating diagnosis draws your attention to the next life. The comfort of Salvation won for you by Jesus Christ takes on a more striking meaning when conversations with doctors include the reality of death. However, while such a diagnosis makes heaven a real topic, it also involves so much that will happen here in this life. The caregiver needs rest as much from the labors of the world as from the burden of sin. 

Jesus gives us rest.

Jesus is not a single-issue Savior. He loves us, now, in our sin and in our failures. His Work and Word address both our sins and our weaknesses. His love for us forgives our sins, relieves our burdens, and offers us a rest that brings joy out of weariness.

If you are a caregiver, I pray God’s blessings on your ministry. May He give you strength and rest along with the blessed assurance of Salvation.

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