Burden Bearing

by Arthur Pink
February, 1945

"Cast your burden upon the Lord—and He shall sustain you." Psalm 55:22

What a remarkable statement is that! Probably our very familiarity with it, has prevented any sense of wonderment over it. Try to conceive what would be its first effect upon a converted heathen! He has been brought to a saving knowledge of the living God and granted a measure of light on His glorious Being and Majesty. He has learned that by His mere fiat, the universe was called into existence; that so infinitely is He exalted above all creatures, that the nations of the earth are regarded by Him as but a drop in the bucket; that He sits enthroned on High, where myriads of creatures bow before Him in worship crying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty" (Isaiah 6:3).

And now he learns that this King of kings and Lord of lords invites him to "Cast your burden upon the Lord" (Psalm 55:22)! Must not such a discovery be overwhelming to his mind and heart! And ought it not to have the same effect on us?—that He who "humbles himself to [even] behold the things that are in heaven" (Psalm 113:6) deigns to bid us lay upon HIM what we find too heavy to carry!

What a striking thing it is, that when a Christian has perceived the amazingness of such an invitation, or at least is acquainted with it—that he is so slow in profiting from it. We know not which is the more astonishing: that the Lord should be so condescending in granting us such a privilege—or that we should be so slow and reluctant to avail ourselves of it! We know not which is the more surprising: That we are given the opportunity of easing ourselves and laying on the Lord what is too heavy for us to carry; or our failure to embrace such an opportunity—and in consequence, continuing to stagger beneath a load which cripples us. It makes us think of a famished man being so foolishly proud as to refuse food when it is offered to him; or one in daylight closing and bandaging his eyes, and then complaining that he cannot see. Like Martha of old, many of the saints are "careful and troubled about many things"—when "but one thing is needful" (Luke 10:41, 42).

The one thing needful for ease of mind and peace of heart—is to "cast your burden upon the Lord" (Psalm 55:22), instead of attempting to carry it yourself. There is our blessed recourse! That is the grand remedy for anxiety. Why, that was the very thing we learned at the beginning, was it not? When convicted of our lost condition, when "heavy laden" with a sense of guilt and the wrath of God upon us, how did we obtain relief? Was it not by heeding that blessed Gospel invitation, "Come unto Me—and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28)? We found rest of conscience and soul by coming to Christ just as we were, by acknowledging our wretchedness, by casting ourselves on His grace and mercy. And, my reader, we are to obtain relief of heart and mind from the carking cares of this life—in precisely the same way that we obtained relief of conscience at the beginning—by unbosoming ourselves to the Lord, by asking Him to undertake for us, by trusting Him to do so.

While it is true that (as mentioned in the opening paragraph) an apprehension of the infinite greatness and absolute supremacy of God will fill us with wonderment at His amazing condescension in bidding us cast our burden upon Him—yet it needs to be pointed out that a sense of His dominion and all-mightiness will never move the soul to respond to this invitation. The contemplating of Jehovah upon His throne will awe us; but unless we also view Him in other relations and consider other aspects of the Divine character, our heart will never be melted before Him and drawn out to have free dealings with Him. There is a balance which needs observing here too. God is not only transcendent—but imminent. He not only resides in the highest Heaven—but "he be not far from everyone of us" (Acts 17:27). He not only dwells "in the light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16)—but He is also "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1); and for the believer, "a friend that sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).

The last quoted passages need to have a real place in our hearts if we are to respond to the invitation of our opening text. They need to be frequently meditated upon and require faith to be mixed with them. To view the Lord only as in Heaven, produces a sense of remoteness in the soul. We should also cultivate a sense of His nearness to us. Is not that clearly presupposed by the language of our text, "Cast your burden upon the Lord—and He shall sustain you." How could one cast his burden on Another who was far away? God is near to His people not only by virtue of His omnipresence —for in that sense, He is equally near to the wicked—but He has come close to them in the Person of Christ, and He has brought them unto God (1 Peter 3:18). That needs to be realized in the soul, as well as understood in the mind. The Lord is constantly near us: "I will never leave you, nor ever forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5); which is not only a blessed fact—but one that needs to be acted on. Since He is by your side, "Cast your burden upon the Lord." "Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil—for you are with me" (Psalm 23:4).

Others are, perhaps, deterred from availing themselves of this privilege—through regarding God as being of such greatness and majesty, that it would be presumption to suppose He notices our petty trials and troubles. In the human realm, high office and pomposity usually go together, for those in authority rarely pay much attention to the personal affairs of those under them. But far different is it with the Lord. The One who created the universe—also planted the blade of grass. The One who governs the planets—also numbers the hairs of our heads. The One who is worshiped by the angels—also observes the fall of a sparrow.

The One who holds our souls in life—bids us to cast our "burden upon" Him. It is true that He is Almighty—but He is also our Father. If I called upon the king of England, or the president of the United States, he would not receive me; but he would receive his own child! Cultivate the thought of God's Fatherhood! It implies nearness, access, sympathy, readiness to sustain.

Another thing which hinders many, is the limitations which they place upon the Lord. They believe that Christ bore their sins in His own body on the tree—but that is as far as their faith goes. They trust Him with the eternal interests of their souls—but largely lose sight of Him for their temporal supplies. They betake themselves to Him as their spiritual Physician—but not as their bodily. We read, "Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses" (Matthew 8:17). He took them upon His spirit, entering sympathetically into the condition of the sufferers. And today, He is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15). Then contemplate Him as the compassionate One who has at heart your temporal interests, who is willing to supply all your need. He is not only a Deliverer from the wrath to come—but a Sustainer in trouble, a Strengthener in weakness, a Succourer in trials. Then make use of Him as such, and cast your burden upon Him.

Note well, it is not "burdens" but "burden"—for we are not to allow them to accumulate. As soon as you are conscious of one—cast it on the Lord, by taking Him fully into your confidence, freely unbosoming yourself to Him, and familiarly acquainting Him with what weighs upon you. If it is the burden of sin, confess it frankly to Him and plead the promise of 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." If the burden of sustenance, anxiety over the future, troubled about meeting your obligations, acknowledge your fear, unbelief and distress, and remember it is "the Father of mercies" (2 Corinthians 1:3) you are talking to. If of sorrow, grief over wayward children, or the anguish of bereavement, pour out your lamentations into the ear of Him who wept by the grave side of Lazarus! Then plead His promise, "He shall sustain you" (Psalm 55:22), expect Him to make it good in your case, and you shall prove the grand truth, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

"Bear each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). A very needful word is that in this exceptionally selfish age, when, beyond contributing to public appeals for charity, few have any regard for the needs and rights of others, and when so many of the present and the rising generation are devoid of even "natural affection." True Christianity fulfils both tables of the Law. Genuine piety consists not only of giving God His proper place in my life—but in seeking the welfare of my neighbors. I may be diligent in keeping the Sabbath, singing Psalms, and attending church—but if I am lacking in love to those I profess are my brethren and sisters in Christ—then my religion is no better than that of the Pharisees. If the love of God has been shed abroad in my heart—then I shall sympathize with His children in their varied trials and troubles, be ready to counsel and comfort, and assist them so far as lies in my power. Only thus shall I fulfill the law of Christ's precepts and the law of His example (John 13:14, 15), for He enjoins us to be compassionate to others, and is Himself touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

"For every man shall bear his own burden" (Galatians 6:5). Needless to say, there is no conflict between this verse and the others which have been before us. There is a "burden" of which we cannot rid ourselves—and that is, the discharge of our responsibility, the performance of duty. For the fulfillment of that, we may—we should seek grace from the Lord; but to be relieved of it, we must not pray. Nor may we legitimately look to our brethren and sisters to shoulder it for us. We are not warranted in imposing on their benevolence, or so trading on their kindness, that we become drones. If a man will not work—neither shall he eat! (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If he refuses to use the strength and talent God has given him, he has no right at all to expect others to come and feed him.