Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved (ESV).
All people everywhere have some sort of affliction, concern, or pressure bearing on them. These burdens weigh us down and cause us to seek relief. We all know the feeling, though the form of our burdens and their severity vary from person to person. It is a rare person indeed who does not feel that his or her burdens are harder or more painful to bear than those of other people. Imagine a group of people discussing their concerns, and you can almost see everyone waving their arms and crying out, “Listen to me! Look at my problems!” As our self-focus increases, our attention to the Second Great Command diminishes. Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). It is far too easy to complain, “I need to be loved most! Let me talk! Help me!” We need to face the reality that though we out to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2 NIV), our own trials, limited natures, and weaknesses combine to leave many suffering under their burdens.
The Lord steps into this situation with an invitation that provides hope.
Today, let’s identify our burdens. What is your burden, or probably more accurately, what are some of your major burdens? It is easy to hear people answer in the following ways.
- My burden is my anxiety about some coming event, a change I know is coming. These are sources of many burdens, such as job or even career changes, an impending move to another community, or having one’s closest friends about to move away. Our anxiety can be about making the best choice or filling the empty spots in our lives after the change occurs.
- My burden comes from the slander and malice of others. Many times, this burden arises in the workplace, where some people suppose that the way to the top is to walk upon the heads of others. There are others that seem to gain some special delight in making others suffer, and their attacks can come in subtle but painful ways. Gossip might be the weapon of choice, or they simply do petty things that can make life miserable. We know that our Lord faced such aggravations in his earthly ministry, and we ought not to be surprised when we have to endure the same.
- My burden is outward troubles, like disappointment in plans and financial losses that lead to more embarrassing pressures. Christ’s people want to honor their commitments to make timely payments, but who hasn’t wondered how they are going to pay that stack of bills on their desk? Jesus warned us against imitating the concerns of worldly people. We should often meditate on Matthew 6:25-34.
- My burden is grief. Part of life involves morning over the loss of parents, spouse, siblings, children, and friends. Not all face all of these because of their own early demise, but we might endure bereavement even in our early years. The burden might come from the missing place at the holiday table, or when you think of how you always called someone on Sunday evenings, and they are no longer able to answer your call. Sorrow fills the room and crowds out joy. This is a burden.
- My burden is my disease or disability. These might be physical or emotional. Most of us can accept when we can no longer do a particular activity, like play full-court basketball. We console ourselves with thoughts that it is our turn to watch. But think of those whose normal activity is cut short by an accident or the onset of an illness. Their days can be filled with loneliness and sadness, to say nothing of pain and frustration.
- My age causes my labor and sorrow. I can’t bend down to get items in the grocery store, and I can’t open the lids of jars when I do get them. Buying groceries, carrying them into my home or apartment, and putting them away leaves me exhausted. Everything seems to take twice as long to do it as it used to. And when it’s done, I must rest twice as long before I can do anything. And I ache. I have pains in places that I didn’t think it was possible to have pains.
- My burden is my struggle with sin. Temptation is swirling around me, and I don’t seem to make progress. How long will God tolerate my spiritual failures? Is his friendship strong enough to care about somebody like me?
- My burden is lack of hope. If I could know that the Lord will receive me and give me much more than I can ask or imagine, I might feel unburdened. But I daily wrestle with nagging doubts about my election, calling, salvation, and acceptance in God’s family. I fear that my course might end in eternal misery.
You might have another kind of burden that I have not listed. Regardless of your burden, our text is good news! The eternal, unchangeable, sovereign God invites us all to cast our burdens on him. Lay hold of that invitation now, and cast your burdens on him! In our next study on this verse, we will look at the Lord’s promise.
Grace and peace, David