by Javier Quintana
Ask yourself these questions and try to answer as honestly as possible: Have you ever felt that you can’t go one step further? Do you feel that there is no remedy to your situation? Have you felt that everything has become so complicated that you do not want to continue? How many times do other people come to bring you their problems and add additional burdens?
The number of Christians who suffer from discontent, anxiety, anger, and despair is alarming. In sharing this topic, I realized that most Christians do not rest their souls. We seem to have forgotten that Jesus offers relief to our soul. Jesus offers us true rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle 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).
This Bible verse can speak to those who feel tired of living oppressed by their own sin. I have often used this verse for an evangelistic message with the purpose of leading someone to Christ. But let’s look at the message of Matthew 11:28 addressed to Christians.
A person who is “weary” and “burdened” is like a person who has been beaten — not only beaten once but beaten again and again without receiving relief.
Jim Berg wrote the book “c” and the study guide “Taking Time to Quiet Your Soul.” I found this guide when I needed it most, and it helped me to be honest with myself and with God. I don’t know how many can identify with me, but personally I have suffered with a lot of noise in the middle of my prayers. As I try to pray, thoughts come up that disturb the order of my conversation with God. The study guide explains that noise is produced by creating a disturbance. Berg says that noise in the physical sphere consists of sound waves, while noises of the soul consist of thoughts.
There is a difference between a noise and a sound. A sound can be a set of notes that, when put together, create a pleasant melody. However, a noise causes distortion and causes an unpleasant feeling when listening to it. It is not the same to listen to how a violin creates a melody with which one could even fall sleep, compared to the noise of a mosquito flying around close to our ear. There is a big difference.
Something similar happens in our soul. It is very difficult to concentrate with so many interruptions caused by the noise in our soul. It is difficult to hear the voice of God. Our prayer can be frequently interrupted by other thoughts. I think we’ve all been in a place where our cell phone just doesn’t have good reception. Sometimes it is better to end the call before dealing with intermittent communication. There are times when we hear so much noise that our communication with God becomes ineffective.
Jesus used two important words in Matthew 11:28–30. The first was “weary,” which is equivalent to labored, fatigued, exhausted or tired. The second word was “burdened,” which means weighed down, overloaded, oppressed, upset, stressed or depressed.
The study guide asks more questions such as: “What noises disturb your soul, depriving it of rest or peace?” while reminding us of the psalmist’s revelation: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit…” (Psalm 40:1–2). The slimy pit can literally become a pit of noise.
Are you hearing noises of anxiety and fear; noises of discouragement and despair; noises of anger and frustration; noises of bitterness, guilt and grief; noises of remorse; noises of possessions; noises of responsibility for a new position; noises of the unknown; noises of pending tasks? These noises can also come from our entertainment. We can often find ourselves thinking too much about the new series, movie, music, news, sports, video games, or travel and adventure. The sum of these noises can be deafening.
However, Jesus offers something different: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This is the peace that I have experienced for the past few years.
Through this study, I learned that the noises of the soul can become very dangerous. They can affect us physically, causing disease and damage to the body. They can also affect us spiritually. A noisy soul reflects deviation from God. We may begin by feeling a bit of separation from God, but we end up living with an unfocused and absent gaze on God.
So what is God’s remedy for noise in our soul? Matthew 11:28-30 reveals the solutions to silence these noises: “Come to me” refers to the orientation of our heart. We must decide whether to fix our sights on God or to focus on trying to be self-dependent. Proverbs 3:5–8 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
Berg gave me a new point of view by quoting his “New Reverse Version” of Matthew 11:28–30. Don’t try to buy it because it doesn’t exist. It is simply his idea of our attitude at times when we allow ourselves to be controlled by the noises of our soul. This version would say: “Avoid me, all of you who are toiled and burdened, and I will deny you rest. Refuse to bear my yoke of companionship and permanence and refuse to learn from me so that you may become like me, and you will find noise for your souls.” That sounds awful, but it may show our behavior.
“Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29) is to be willing to be governed — to be humble. We cannot call Jesus “our Lord” if we do not wish to surrender our wills to Him. Most of the noise in our soul is caused by the struggle to regain control of our lives. We are constantly fighting against what we think limits us.
During my study of this book, I had to confront myself and understand that the struggle for control is fueled by pride. Berg describes pride this way: “Pride complains and cries; pride is outspoken and demanding; pride argues and debates; pride desires and takes; pride screams and takes revenge; pride blames and points to others; pride wants and craves; pride manipulates and operates; pride is pushed and obsessed; pride worries and doubts. Pride is full of arrogance, self-protection, self-promotion, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Pride cries out, ‘I won’t . . .’ ‘I must have . . .’; ‘I don’t have to . . .’; ‘I won’t let it happen . . .’; ‘I can’t take it anymore . . .’; ‘I don’t like it . . .’ The ‘I’ is a persistent source of noise — like a hungry, breastfeeding child on his mother’s lap (Psalm 131).”
Let’s ask ourselves one last question: Are we willing to be “humble of heart”? Because, Jesus, who is our role model, did not live a life centered on Himself. He said, “Learn from me; I am your example.” It is necessary to maintain a constant spirit of repentance; a constant spirit of dependence; a teachable, obedient and constant spirit of service to others. This will help us to grow spiritually, and the noises of the soul will be silenced little by little.
The Lord offers us a new opportunity every day. An opportunity to seek him and make the noises in our soul quiet down so we can hear Him clearly.