Powerful Passages, Pt. 3
Study Guide, September 18, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
So what do you think of when you hear the word ‘burdens’? Everybody has some, right? And there seems to be an endless variety of burdens laid upon us in this world as well: Cares, toils, afflictions, trials, weaknesses, dejection, wants, fears, struggles, and so on. And yet, for all of these burdens there is really only one relief – and that’s what we are going to explore in this study today.
It has to do with ‘casting’. Now in connection with ‘casting’ and ‘burdens’, many people think of it in terms of like a fisherman, casting his line. Or they may think of the casting like ‘net casting’. However, the thing is, just like in either casting a line or casting a net, there’s a good chance you will bring something back in with it. And when that something is some fish, that’s really good. But when that something is the burden itself or even more burdens…that’s not so good. Instead, what we are going to do is describe another way of handling the burdens of life that each of us carry or have to deal with. But first, let’s go to one of the passages about burden bearing and we’ll see that it is powerful indeed, because it is one of the most powerful statements in the Bible about what we are to do with our burdens and also what God will do in response. Ps 55:22- “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” NKJV
Note first that this remedy is not just the primary resource of what we are to do with our ‘burdens’…no, it is the ‘only’ resource… “Cast your burden on the Lord…”. Now, whatever else these words mean, they mean that the Lord is calling for us include Him, to go to Him, to make wise use of Him in relation to our burdens. Whatever presses upon you and me in any way or troubles you and me, we are to take it off our shoulders and let the Lord, who is already alongside of us, now come alongside of us and do what only He can do with our burdens. One truth we are to let sink down into our soul is that God is not only our Creator – He is also our Father; your Father and my Father, who cannot help loving us and caring for us everywhere and in everything.
Count on this: Whenever you recognize something that has become a ‘burden’ for you, realize that it has become a burden for God, too. And He has already come alongside of you and says, “My son, or My daughter, you are not meant to carry that alone…cast that burden on Me.” In another Psalm David reinforces this point by informing us of just how our burdens affect God and what God calls us to do about them. Notice this in two versions: Ps 68:19- “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation. Selah.” NASU Do you remember what we pointed out about what the ‘Selah’ means? It means that we are to pause and think about it…really think about the implications of this revelation. Now consider these implications of what is being said about our God by looking at it in the next version – Ps 68:19- “Praise the Lord! Every day He helps us with the loads we must carry. He is the God who saves us.” ERV
What an amazing and encouraging picture of our God! God is not removed or remote or reluctant to be involved in our daily lives. No, every day He is ready and more than willing to help us with the loads we must carry. David is informing us that God so knits Himself with us as that all which touches us touches Him, that He takes a share in all our pressing duties, and feels and senses all our sorrows and pains. God, in all our afflictions, is afflicted; and, in a wondrous way, He feels our infirmities, our pains, and our struggles. And He not only wants to bless us in assisting us in dealing with these burdens of our lives, but as David points out, the real blessing in the midst of burden bearing is the blessing of God Himself, who is with us in it all and through it all. He is there to share in bearing our burdens and is ready to sustain us as we bear them.
Whenever we become aware of some burden, the first thing we tend to do…and often for quite some time after, is that we become fixated on the burden. It commands our attention, it occupies our thoughts, it runs our emotions, it takes on a crown, as it were, and rules over our lives. But you see, the only thing, actually, the only One who has earned the right to wear the crown and to rule over our lives is the One who bore our greatest burden on a cross and defeated all burdens and won the victory for us.
Think about it: Isa 53:4-6- “He certainly has taken upon Himself our suffering and carried our sorrows, but we thought that God had wounded Him, beat Him, and punished Him. He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from His wounds. We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way, and the Lord has laid all our sins on Him.” God’s Word Version You see, the greatest burden we ever carried was the burden of our sins and our sentence of sin. But Jesus took that burden from us and carried it to the cross, where He paid the sentence in full and removed the greatest burden from us forever!
So we watched Him carry our greatest burden, the guilt of our sin, and He says to us now, “I can carry that one as well, whatever that burden might be. But you must bring it to Me.” Remember, burdens have no right to rule over us. Only our Savior and our King has the right to rule over us, and His rule is righteous, and He reigns in love over His children and for His children.
So what then does this ‘casting’ of burdens look like? How are we to imagine it or think about it or go about casting our burdens on the Lord? Actually, burden bearing is best thought of and pictured by thinking of it as the ‘trinity of burden bearing’. What do we mean by that? Well, let’s put this together by looking into another powerful passage: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30 NASU So for one thing, casting your burdens on the Lord involves staying in the yoke with your Lord. What a great image of a walk of discipleship, with you and me on one side of the yoke and Christ on the other. However, with us, the image would look more like a weaker and inexperienced oxen alongside of a stronger and more experienced one. But still, we can clearly catch the concept of staying in the yoke and leaning on the leading of our Lord in the yoke with us.
One of the strangest habits that many Christians have is the habit of slipping out of their yoke. It’s strange, but it is not surprising, because remember, even though we are to walk in the yoke with our Lord, like oxen together, we still have a sheep nature that is prone to wander. Mark it down: you and I are prone to wander; wander from the Lordship of Christ and from walking alongside of Him as though ‘yoked’ together with Him. The thing is, though, that we are never unharnessed from the responsibilities of life nor the burdens that often come with them or intrude upon our lives. It’s like that weaker and less experienced oxen that’s come out of the yoke, but still trying to pull the weight by himself or herself. All the while, the Lord is already alongside saying, “Cast your burdens on Me…come back into the yoke and let Me pull the greater weight, let Me lighten your load.”
Another part of the ‘trinity of burden bearing’ can be thought of and pictured like this: Heb 6:17-20- “Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope—like a sure and firm anchor of the soul—that enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” Holman Bible
There are several amazing teachings we could pull out of this powerful passage, but for our study today, again, picture this ‘anchor for our soul’. When we are called to cast our burdens on the Lord, we are being called to recall two unchangeable things: God’s promises to us, along with the fact that God cannot lie. Both our assurance of our salvation and our assistance in our sanctification are guaranteed by God’s promises and by the fact that God cannot lie. Both are more secure than the greatest anchor that could ever hold fast a ship in the midst of a storm.
The anchor was a popular symbol in the early church. At least sixty-six pictures of anchors have been found in the catacombs. That tells us right there how much the early church used that image to help them deal with their burdens. But also, this spiritual anchor is different from the physical anchors on ships because, for one thing, we are anchored upward – to heaven – not downward. We are anchored, not to stand still, but to move ahead!1 This anchor helps us to cast the burdens of our lives onto the promises of God. And since God cannot lie we can then be secure even when we have to deal with burdens of the flesh; such as, natural weakness, sickness, pain, corrupt affections, wasting toil, poverty, and such. We have a secure anchor to face mental burdens: ignorance, confusion, deception, along with the schemes of the devil who presents himself as an angel of light to a dark world. This anchor enables us to wrestle against the cultural burdens of the tossing and turning of every wind and wave of immorality and vice. And this anchor helps us handle the spiritual burdens of falsehood and deception. Again, our anchor is sure because our hope is in Christ, Who is our anchor for the soul.
But still, there is one more part that makes up the trinity of burden bearing, and it’s portrayed in this powerful passage. Phil 4:6-7- “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” NLT
Oftentimes we think of peace as something we have after the burdens are gone, or after the burden is lifted. Oddly enough, the time when life consists of the absence of burdens is usually called ‘the After-life’; it’s not this life. In this life we will have tribulations and burdens of all kinds. And therefore, this kind of peace where burdens are few is rather rare, if not non-existent on this Earth. So the kind of peace we are talking about is more like this peace of protection, like having one of these shields that guards your whole self. The battles are daily, the burdens are constant, but God’s peace is assured because His protection is powerful, if we will practice His plan and make use of our shield, our ‘peace shield’. And we know that there is a shield of faith, but peace can be a shield and guard of our well-being also.
So put it all together, this trinity of burden bearing, and it’s like living in the midst of burdens of all sorts, but now you are walking together, yoked with the Lord, and anchored to the rock of God’s promises, and guarded with this shield of peace against the fiery darts of the devil and the troubles of the world. And although, the trials are hard and the fight is fierce, and the burdens are heavy, you are moving forward; not moved in defeat, but moving forward in victory, sustained by a power greater than you own, and also greater than any other power on earth; your Lord and Savior’s power. Again, you are able to overcome the pressures of these burdens of life by casting them on the Lord with whom you are ‘yoked’ together to help pull you through them all, as well as secured in the anchor of His promises, all the while being protected by God’s shield of peace. Selah!
1. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.