"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." Matthew 11:28-30

The TV cameras are gone, social media posts have slowed, and the waters have begun to recede. By now the flooding in Nebraska is no longer in the spotlight, but it’s still all-consuming for those most drastically impacted.

As with many of you, I’ve been in conversations with family and friends who are draining basements, packing possessions, picking up debris, identifying lost livestock, drying out photo albums, rerouting commutes, and leaving behind the homes held for generations. Strong individuals and strong communities are coming together to rebuild our devastated state. I am wholeheartedly impressed by the relentless grit, terrific courage, and genuine compassion people have shown to offer support.

Nonetheless, even the strong get tired.

With the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion there may come a kind of spiritual emptiness as well; a sense of simply running out of words, even in prayer, as if there is nothing left to say. Yet there is something left to say and, in the center of our empty exhaustion stands Jesus, with just the right words. His invitation and His promise are what we and our neighbors need to hear, and that we need to remind all of those suffering: “Come to me … and I will give you rest.”

Jesus is gentle and humble. He places no burden of work or guilt on us. The yoke of faith is easy because it is not of our doing. Bearing the awful weight of our sins and the sins of the whole world, Jesus was nailed to the cross. He died in our place and rose to life to set us free. Then, on a Sabbath, our Lord once slept in death in the tomb, His work of saving us complete.

Despite living in a broken world full of unfortunate loss, sin, and death, we now rest in the hope that is to come when we leave this world and walk in eternal joy with our savior.

Father, when we are exhausted by the events of life, comfort us and fill us with strength to continue with the work that remains to be done. Help those who are hurting and feeling burdened to be surrounded by your love and be reminded of the refuge found in You. Lead us all to find refreshment in Word and Sacrament, so that we might share with others the comfort and hope that we have in You.
Amen.