Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about adversity. I know it’s foolish or short sighted to think about the rotator cuff surgery I am facing as adversity, but to me that’s what it is. It’s a kind of adversity that won’t last too long. I’ve faced adversities before that have lasted decades. Some kinds of adversity I have been struggling with for perhaps a life time! Today a scripture from the Bible came to my mind:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
This is a very well known New Testament verse. But do we know what it means? I think, perhaps, that we slip on past the details and slide into the notion that Christ’s way is the easy way, or, at the very least, the easier way. This seems like an almost seductive notion. But that makes no sense at all, so how does this verse address adversity?
In biblical times the yoke was a device of great assistance to those who tilled the field. It allowed the strength of a second animal to be linked and coupled with the effort of a single animal, sharing and reducing the heavy labor of the plow or wagon. A burden that was overwhelming or perhaps impossible for one to bear could be equitably and comfortably borne by two bound together with a common yoke.
Some of us know this bit. We remember this from a lesson on the pioneers, or from an episode of Little House on the Prairie, or maybe from reading some Louis L’Amour westerns. But somehow we get the idea that the creature in the other bow is Christ. That Christ is the other ox. But Christ isn’t the other ox. It’s His yoke; He owns it. In this metaphor, Christ is the driver.
So who’s in the other bow? We are taught from a very young age that we are the Lord’s hands, that God accomplishes His work through us. WE are, every one of us, yoked to each other—with Christ’s yoke. We are yoked through covenant, and, more importantly, through love.
So it’s no surprise that nearly every church or Bible lesson is a discussion of histology: the knitting of souls, one to another, like cells into tissue, tissues into organs, organs into systems, and the systems into the organisms—children of God, knit together into the Body of Christ.
How are we knit together? One of the things that knits us together is how we react to adversity. Do we take on the Yoke of Christ? Or do we take another path? Do we “mourn with those that mourn”? Do we “comfort those that stand in need of comfort”? Do we “stand [in the place] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places”? (Mosiah 18:8-10) Adversity really is part of God’s plan for our eternal progress. It’s a personal crucible that burns away our impurities, that points up the cracks in our shells. But it’s more than that, really. Adversity is an opportunity for us to seek out others, and together build the Body of Christ.