To the Spiritually Exhausted

by Jul 6, 2023

There’s a phrase people use that always bugs me. It’s when a harsh confrontation needs to be had and it’s described as a “come to Jesus meeting.”

It bugs me because Jesus actually said the words, “Come to me…” but it wasn’t for a verbal beatdown with fists of shame and guilt:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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 11:28-30 NRSV

Jesus invited people who were spiritually exhausted to come to him. And to be “spiritually” exhausted means to be absolutely worn out from the inside out.

You’re a whole person. You don’t have an emotional compartment and an intellectual compartment and a spiritual compartment. You are a spiritual being, which means that your very nature is spiritual and that includes your body, your mind, your heart, and your will.

Why did Jesus invite spiritually exhausted people to come to him? Because their religious leaders had been offering them load upon load of guilt and shame along with more rules to keep to try to earn God’s mercy.

I believe we’re living in times in which people are spiritually exhausted. We’ve been exhausted by deteriorating economic conditions, global conflict, political divisiveness, a global pandemic that forced us to live in greater isolation for a couple of years, and so much more.

You might be walking through your own season of weariness because of exhausting circumstances that are uniquely personal to you.

For all of us, there is good news for the spiritually exhausted.

Jesus offered the spiritually exhausted an invitation to find actual rest. And in rest, there is refreshing and reinvigoration.

1. Jesus invites us IN instead of kicking us out.

Jesus is being inclusive, not exclusive. Instead of “Go to your room while I withhold my love for a while,” Jesus knows the only real solution to our weariness is to come to him. To be welcomed by him.

Further, Jesus doesn’t just invite those who have their stuff together. He invites ALL who are weary to come. And Jesus does that repeatedly throughout the gospels. His invitation is wide open with no qualifiers. Tired? Come find rest, no matter who you are.

2. Jesus understands our exhaustion.

Jesus didn’t minimize the feelings of weariness or overlook them. He wasn’t above the vulnerable, the marginalized, the sinful, the rejected. Instead, Jesus gave people permission to own their weariness in his presence.

One of the most powerful skills we can develop, in our own lives and in the lives of our children, is to give voice to feelings and give a vocabulary to our emotions.

3. Jesus gives us a promise with real power behind it.

Jesus didn’t issue an empty challenge to people to superficially smile through suffering. He didn’t ask them to behave outwardly in a way that would be contradictory to what they were truly feeling.

He didn’t tell them to find something positive to think about. There was no talk of looking on the bright side or how every dark cloud has its silver lining.

And he didn’t challenge the weary and exhausted to get back up and run and fight and rise above their circumstances.

Instead, King Jesus, the Messiah, the Creator, the Architect of all of creation, God-become-man, is fully capable of actually handling all the weariness you can dump on him.

The Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament in the Christian Bible) are filled with the songs and prayers of people bringing their exhaustion and bewilderment to God and expressing it to him.

We’ve all walked through seasons in which we just couldn’t overcome the weariness on our own, and one of life’s greatest discoveries is the truth that you weren’t made to go through any of it alone! God’s Spirit is everpresent, always near, and always tuned in.

King Jesus, who can certainly handle it all, offers us rest. And he’s powerful enough to follow through for any of the billions of people on this planet who would cast their weariness upon him.

To get the full impact of this passage, hear it in The Message…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Does that sound good?

“Recover your life…”

“Take a real rest…”

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

That’s what Jesus offers to the spiritually exhausted who accept his invitation to follow him.

Are you tired yet? Have a “come to Jesus meeting” – the kind where you lay your burdens down and he wraps his grace around you.


This post is adapted from my message notes from a sermon preached at SOCO Church in Bentonville, Arkansas on Sunday, July 9, 2023 (Message begins at 39:00).


Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

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