"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 and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Jesus calls all who labor and are heavy laden. What does he mean by that? I suppose it could be a physical exhaustion. It could also be those struggling with emotional burdens because of economic hardship, social hurts, relationship breakdown, or simply depression. He calls all of these people who are just plain tired with life and promises to give them rest - rest for their souls.
As a Christian, I found this to be true. I found the idea of Jesus calling me, taking my heavy burdens, and replacing them with his simple yoke incredibly refreshing and compelling. Here was a simple relationship of trust and obedience, like a child's with her parent; one that often gave me a wonderful sense of peace. Keith Green's song often came to mind when thinking of the yoke of Christ: Just keep doing your best, and pray that it's blessed, and he'll take care of the rest.
Jesus says that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.
And again, this was something I experienced. Faith in God and his ability to care for me and to lead me where he wanted was relatively easy.
Unfortunately, the more I thought about my faith and its validity, the heavier this yoke became on my shoulders.
The yoke that was supposed to bring peace and rest instead began to weigh heavily on my mind as I considered the ramifications of what it meant to trust in (and actually feel benefit from!) a deity who was not there.
It was the feeling of relief evaporating when one realizes that the sight of life-giving water was merely a mirage. It was the feeling of hope dying when the report of a cancer-free body is discovered to have been accidentally switched with another patient's.
It was a feeling of dark despair.
I began to deal with the terrible cognitive dissonance of believing in a god who loved me with zero real evidence that he's actually there.