It is time to let go of those heavy burdens:
I need to remind my readers that when I pen a piece involving admonitions or encouragements or warnings and the like, I often am writing just as much to myself as to anyone else. I personally need to hear these words. If no one else needs them, I usually do.
This article is a case in point. It involves an area I struggle with. Some of you may struggle with it as well. It has to do with carrying cares and burdens and anxieties and worries. Before I discuss my own problems here, let me offer one related example of this to help set the stage.
Let’s say we have a gal who is very much into animal welfare. She is deeply disturbed by cruelty to, and abuse of, animals – something we all should be of course. But for this person it is an all-consuming passion. It is all she thinks about. She loses sleep over it, forever worrying about how some poor animals around the world are being treated.
We might offer the following sort of advice to her: ‘It is great that you care so deeply about this, and that you are doing your bit to reduce it. Well done. But you cannot save every animal in the world, and you cannot let this so consume you that it utterly breaks you. You need to care for animals but you should not let it destroy you.’
So let me now share my story. In a similar sort of way to this fictitious gal, I also worry a lot. I care deeply about the state of the world. I care deeply about what I see happening around me. I care deeply about how the church is going. I care deeply about the culture wars. I care deeply about the growing darkness in the West.
You get the idea, and this website gives expression to these and other deep concerns that I have. Yes, I know full well that I am to cast my burdens on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). And that I often do. I raise my hands to the Lord and ask him to relieve me of these cares, these burdens, these worries.
And I am not in this state 24/7. But so often that is how I seem to be. As I say, we are meant to let Christ take these concerns upon himself. As Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.”
Let me speak a bit more to this important passage by appealing to a very significant book that I have touted before. I refer to Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund (Crossway, 2020). Early on he says this concerning the Matt. 28 text:
My dad pointed out to me something that Charles Spurgeon pointed out to him. In the four Gospel accounts given to us in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — eighty-nine chapters of biblical text — there’s only one place where Jesus tells us about His own heart….
In the one place in the Bible where the Son of God pulls back the veil and lets us peer way down into the core of who he is, we are not told that he is “austere and demanding in heart.” We are not told that He is “exalted and dignified in heart.” We are not even told that he is “joyful and generous in heart.” Letting Jesus set the terms, his surprising claim is that he is “gentle and lowly in heart.”…
And when Jesus tells us what animates him most deeply, what is most true of him — when he exposes the innermost recesses of his being — what we find there is: gentle and lowly.
Who could ever have thought up such a Savior?
The point in saying that Jesus is lowly is that he is accessible. For all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, his supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one in human history has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ. No prerequisites. No hoops to jump through….
“Gentle and lowly.” This, according to his own testimony, is Christ’s very heart. This is who he is. Tender. Open. Welcoming. Accommodating. Understanding. Willing. If we are asked to say only one thing about who Jesus is, we would be honoring Jesus’ own teaching if our answer is gentle and lowly….
This is not who he is to everyone, indiscriminately. This is who he is for those who come to him, who take his yoke upon them, who cry to him for help. The paragraph before these words from Jesus gives us a picture of how Jesus handles the impenitent: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! … I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you” (Matthew 11:21, 24). “Gentle and lowly” does not mean “mushy and frothy.”
But for the penitent, His heart of gentle embrace is never outmatched by our sins and foibles and insecurities and doubts and anxieties and failures.
Terrific stuff there. That should spur us all on to readily and regularly cast our cares upon him, for he really does care about us. The 1 Peter 5:7 passage can also be spoken to a bit further. Here are three translations of it:
ESV: casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
KJV casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you
NLT Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
In his expository commentary Daniel Doriani says this about the verse:
Notice that anxiety (merimna) is singular. We normally think of anxieties in the plural. We worry about work, health, relationships, and a too-dense schedule. Problems roll in like waves, but they can congeal into one mass of anxiety. If we pay attention, we sense the big Anxiety in our friends – and our friends can see it in us. We can weather modest problems, arriving singly, but when one great problem falls on us, or a cluster arrives, we feel it differently.
Peter commands us to take our anxiety and throw, toss, or cast it onto God. As we throw a bag of gym clothes into a car or hoist a saddle onto a horse, so we should toss our anxiety on the Lord. He is mighty and he will exalt us at the right time, because our cares are his.
Jesus tells us not to be anxious: “Do not worry about your life.” Pagans constantly worry, asking what they will eat, drink, or wear. If we trust God, we don’t wear ourselves out chasing these things, for we know that our Father will feed and clothe us (Matt. 6:25-32). We should not indulge in our worries.
Yet Paul admits that he has anxiety (merimna again). He lists his troubles as an apostle – the beatings and jails, the hunger, thirst, cold, and shipwreck – and then concludes, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28 ESV). So Paul has anxiety and apparently sees it as a problem but not as a sin.
From this we conclude that anxiety is normal in some circumstances and that it’s possible to be anxious and yet not sin, if we address it properly. Specifically, we neither panic nor attempt to solve our problems autonomously….
I often need to cast my cares on Him. And sometimes I need to repent and ask forgiveness for hanging on to burdens that he wants to carry. But the great news is he knows all about a heavy heart and a wounded spirit. All the more reason to take everything to him instead of holding on to it. I still need to learn this lesson. Pray for me that I get it right – and sooner than later!
One closing quote by someone who certainly had plenty to worry about during her hard life. Concentration camp survivor Corrie Ten Boom said this: “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”