REFLECT

We all carry burdens, and some seasons are more intense than others. Jesus offers His strength and grace when it comes to lifting heavy burdens, which he does gladly, instead of pointing out our many weaknesses. Often, without knowing it, we allow our burdens and the painful experiences of our lives define us, but we have an opportunity to bring all burdens to Jesus’ feet and follow where He chooses to lead us, as he gives us new identities in Himself.

REALIZE

1. Learn to locate the burden.

Matthew 11:25
Leader Notes

  • The burdens we carry in life look differently for all of us. Some of us are burdened by a broken relationship, a difficult job situation, something that worries us. Others of us carry burdens we picked up early in life, like wounds sustained from a relationship with a parent. Often, we gain an additional burden with long-time wounds: the burden of unforgiveness or bitterness toward someone else.
  • Before we can give our burdens to Jesus, we have to locate them, and some are more obvious than others. As we pray, the Holy Spirit will identify to us burdens we are carrying that we don’t need to; if we ask him what burdens we’re carrying, he will tell us. His voice might be quiet, but often we know what the answer is anyway, we just don’t always want to admit it.

What are some of the circumstances or relationships that are weighing you down? How does that burden affect you on a daily basis?

2.  Learn to lose the burden.

Matthew 11:26-27
Leader Notes

  • Once we’ve located our burdens, Jesus offers to partner with us as we release those burdens. A huge part of that journey is trusting that God is good. We can know and trust that he is good because he reveals himself to us in Jesus, and what we see in Jesus is exactly who God is.
  • Sometimes laying down our burdens is a walk of faith in which we have to choose to be disciplined in the practice of letting things go, even when it feels impossible.

What are some practical ways you can “lose” your burden? Name some of the things you need to trust God with, and discuss what it would look like to surrender control of those things to him.

3. Learn to live without the burden.

Matthew 11:28
Leader Notes

  • The burdens we carry sometimes feel like they are a part of who we are. It’s all too easy for us to define ourselves by what burdens us, or by the pain we’ve experienced. But God wants us to define our lives by who he is and by our enjoyment of him.
  • The greatest burdens we carry in life are the sins we idolize, the things we keep going back to. All of our sins and struggles in life track back to a worship problem – when we worship something other than the Lord.

The greatest burdens we carry are the sins we idolize. Is there anything in your life you are idolizing or demonizing? How are those things keeping you at a distance from the Father? What would your life look like if the main recipient of your worship was God.

4. You are not a burden to Him.

Matthew 11:29-30
Leader Notes

  • Whether it’s a result of messages we received growing up, or our own internal dialogue, many of us feel like we are a burden to God. We find it hard to embrace his love for us because we find ourselves thinking God is ashamed of us, annoyed by us, or tired of us. At one time or another, we’ve all experienced this treatment from other people, but it’s not true of God.
  • God loves us with the same love he feels for Jesus, his Son. When we don’t feel God’s love, usually we need a reminder from someone else who knows and loves God, and we need to practice spiritual disciplines (like reading our Bibles, for instance) that help us experience God’s love.

Describe a time you have felt like a burden to God, and describe a time you have known you’re loved by Him. How do you experience God’s love for you on a daily basis? If you don’t have a time of daily devotion with the Lord already, who could you invite to help you develop that routine?

Optional Follow-up Questions:

  • What makes you say that?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
  • Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
  • What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
  • Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?