The classic hymn, Softly and Tenderly, is sung often in Christian worship. In 1880 William L. Thompson penned the lyrics that have spoken to so many people over the years. The chorus says,“Come home, come home; you who are weary come home; earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home!” In the Protestant revival tradition, this song is often recognized as an invitational hymn – a congregational hymn at the conclusion of the service that focused on those attending who may be called by the Holy Spirit to make either a profession of faith or a recommitment of one’s life. Jesus invites those who are weary to come home.
We all get weary at times. It is impossible not to in the world in which we live. We are daily bombarded with situations, events, and experiences that can wear us down. These experiences may be family, work, friends, health, or financially related. The stress of these times can take a toll on us. We may feel so overwhelmed that we are unsure if we have the strength to keep going.
Anne Brontë was an English novelist and poet and the youngest member of the Brontëliterary family. She was the daughter of Patrick Brontë, a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England. Anne lived most of her life with her family at the parish of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors. Bronte once wrote, “Oh, I am very weary, though tears no longer flow; my eyes are tired of weeping. My heart is sick of woe.”The Psalmist writes a similar thought in Psalm 6:6: “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” Both statements describe weariness.
What do we do in these times? Where do we go? The hymn offers us an invitation: come home. But where is home? Home is not a physical place but a loving presence, the presence of Christ Jesus. Jesus himself would say, “Come to me all who are weary and carrying heaven burdens and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Jesus invites us in all our weariness to find rest in him. This rest is not an escape from the trials and struggles of life, nor a sugar coating of them, but an inner peace that allows us to face them in the strength of the Lord. The Apostle Paul, who found himself weary more than once, wrote, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10) In our weariness, we rest not on our strength, but the Lord who is our strength.
We can all come home. In our weariness, we find a home in our Lord’s presence. God offers us his rest. We don’t have to carry the burdens of our lives all by ourselves. Our Lord is ready to take them upon himself and ready to receive us into his arms. We who are weary can come home.