Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "My Faith Looks Up To Thee"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 11:28 – Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (NRSV)
I have a Shi-Tzu dog named Daisy Mae who is also a therapy dog for St. John's Ambulance. We go into the local nursing home every Thursday and visit with the residents there. She just loves to bring joy to these older folks. They also seem to enjoy being able to pat and cuddle her. They both enjoy the treats when I pull one out to let them feed her. She sits, and then, very gently, takes it out of their hands.
Today, we were at a community college as part of a stress-relieving opportunity for the students and some of the staff. Again, Daisy just loved the attention these students gave her. One girl said that she was really stressed over being away from home for the first time and also over a paper that she was writing for one of her classes. She patted the couch beside her, and Daisy jumped up and began to cuddle with her. I could see the stress just melting away from the student.
When I got home from this outing, it made me think back to my days as a mature student studying for my undergraduate degree in university and for my Master of Divinity in seminary. After all these years, I can still remember all the stress and tension, especially when I had papers due or exams to study for. My stomach would be in knots, and sometimes, I would even be physically sick.
We didn't have therapy dogs at either of the institutions I attended, but we had something much, much better. We had a chapel where we could go and pray, and ask God to help us, to calm us, and to be a friend in need. In addition, there were other mature Christian students like me who were going into a whole new way of life. I can remember gathering in one of the larger rooms around ten o'clock every evening for a cup of tea, some friendly talk, and prayer. We could hold up our fellow students in prayer and be held up in prayer ourselves. For me, it was the most peaceful time of the day. I often took advantage of this to go to bed with this peace surrounding me.
John 14:27 – [Jesus said,] "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (NRSV)
As Christians, we know that we have a friend in Jesus, a friend who can take all our worries and tension away. It is even better when we seek out Christian friends to have fellowship, sharing, and prayer with each other. No wonder the Lord in His wisdom warned us against "neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another" (Hebrews 10:25 NRSV).
Prayer: Almighty and loving God, we pray that You will be with those who struggle with workloads, stress, tension, loneliness, and heavy burdens. Give them the willingness and longing to turn to You and to the fellowship of other Christians to help them cope. Amen.