I remember the first time I saw them. I know they had been there all along but somehow I had never noticed them. I wondered how many times had I looked directly at them and not seen them? There had to have been dozens of times I polished right over them, never realizing they were right under my hand.
But on that day, they jumped out at me as I knelt before the Lord in prayer: the tear stains on the altar. No amount of wax or oil would remove their traces. They were etched into the wood. How strange. Tears don’t stain clothing, skin or other articles but they had stained the altar. I was shocked at how many there were. Every one of those dull, irregular splotches will remain forever a testimony of those who have kneeled before their Heavenly Father in brokenness and need. They were small silent memorials of grieving hearts coming to the foot of the cross. Every tear drop represents a burden laid before the Lord.
A burden is a heavy load to carry and it grows heavier with time. They just aren’t a physical heaviness but are also emotional, mental and spiritual. That’s why they weigh so much more on us than something that is weighed in pounds and ounces. While we might bear a heavy load bodily for a time, it is impossible to bear a burden of the soul and heart. “For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” Psalm 38:4
The Lord made us that way, for if we could continue under their weight, we would never seek Him.
While many times, sin is the crushing weight behind our burdens that we cannot bear. It may be the sin of another, one that is persecuting us, or a loved one gone astray. While their sins may bring great pain to our hearts, nothing is as massively oppressing as our own sins against God. If left, they can literally squeeze the life out of us.
Other hardships we shoulder may have nothing to do with sin. Sickness and physical problems are a part of life. Facing the loss of a loved one is something everyone experiences at one time or another. Loss of material possessions due to fire, a tornado or floods are certainly not due to any wrong doing on our part. Whether they are a product of sin or simply a result of living, they all come under the same category – burdens. So what do we do with them?
As in all things pertaining to our lives, God has an answer, a solution, and a way to find relief. And as always it is very simple so everyone has the ability to succeed. Are you ready . . . I know you already know this. . . .you’ve heard it before . . . . JUST GIVE HIM THE BURDEN! Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
Then why don’t we? We have various rationalizations for not doing so. A common one is the conscious or unconscious idea that certain problems are too small to bother God with. Nothing, I repeat nothing is too minor to be brought before Him. From the catastrophe to the seemingly insignificant, all are equally important to our Heavenly Father if it concerns one of His precious children. If He is keeping count of all the hairs on your head, there is no doubt your most trivial problems are of utmost concern to Him also.
On the other hand we might think the dilemma is so minor that we can manage on our own. Whether pride or just plain stupidity fuels this idea, God tells us such ventures are doomed from the beginning and we can’t do ANYTHING without Him! I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
Can we take a breath without Him? Can our heart beat without Him? No! Therefore we can be certain we can’t carry even a mustard seed of trouble alone.
Another reason we hang onto our burdens is because we stop trusting God. When pain and suffering are intense it is easy to make them our focus. This leads us along the lonely futile pathway of self-pity and anger. Weariness overtakes us under our cumbersome load and soon we begin to question God. How could He allow this? I thought He loved me! Where is God when I need Him?
We question the One Who made the ultimate sacrifice when we deserved nothing but punishment. We question the One Who has proven His care and provision for us over and over again. We question the One Whose promises never fail. And thus we being our Israelite experience, wandering in our self-made wilderness, sinking further and further beneath a load we are incapable of bearing. How heartbreaking it must be for Him Who only wants the very best for us, and yet we measure His love by our present circumstances! For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
Of course we can’t forget the amazing burden race. Instead of turning it over to God we decide we can out run it! Drugs, alcohol, immorality, excessive spending, over work, religious activity are all ways people try to escape their massive load they continue to stagger under. David experienced this same desire in Psalm 55:6-7. And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and reamin in the wilderness. Selah.
Much like a kitten with a can tied to its tail, where we go our burden follows, and we will only grow more frantic and exhausted. There is no relief or escape.
We go a full circle and come back to the same answer: we can only give our burdens to the Lord! Face it no one wants your problems but the Lord!!! Many might care and a few that really love you might be willing to take them, but none can, only God. The next question is HOW do we give our burdens to the Lord?
As strange as it may sound, the first step is to ACCEPT the burden. Don’t deny it, attempt to defeat it alone, out last it or flee it. After all, how can we get rid of something by refusing to acknowledge the affect it is having on our lives? Acceptance shows we are trusting God. Recognizing that He is in control and whatever comes our way is lovingly sent to benefit, not destroy us. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:6-7
No matter what the situation, there are never any victims or sitting ducks among God’s children. Quite the contrary, His children are much loved and receive only the best. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
As strange as it may seem, after accepting the burden the Lord asks us to GIVE it to Him. So much so that He uses an even more compelling word and tells us to CAST it. That means to literally throw it on Him! This illustrates how strongly He feels about us hanging on to our problems. Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22. We do this by simply praying and surrendering it to Him.
Accepting the burden is a start and giving it to Him is good but to complete our transaction we must LEAVE it with Him. This is where we fail so often then turn to question why He is not relieving us of the load we strain under. Too often we give our problems to God then take them back with claw marks on them! He’s not the problem, we are!
What is weighing you down right now? What burdens are you bent under and stumbling? Admit it, you can’t carry them. God is waiting right now with strong arms to take them from you. Right now, take your spindly spiritual arms, lug them to the foot of the cross and literally throw them at Him. He’ll not only catch them, He’ll keep them.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, October 2012