The Wandering Pulpit – Above Life’s Burdens
Before we begin today, if you haven’t yet wandered down last week’s post, entitled “Under Life’s Burdens” please do so now. For today’s wanderings are the next steps down that path. With that said let’s not waste anytime hitting the trail. We were contemplating the words of Psalms 119:25-32 where the psalmist was dealing with some very heavy burdens in his life. To the point that he said “My soul cleaves to the dust” and “My soul weeps because of grief.” These are some heavy statements. The Psalmist provided us with six appeals to God for aid in carrying his burdens as well as giving us six actions that he was or would perform in response to God. This is the starting point for casting off our burdens at the feet of Christ but there is more. For when we respond to God He always responds to us in turn. We see this response in the final statement of these verses, specifically the last phrase of Psalm 119:32 which reads:
“For You shall enlarge my heart.” Psalm 119:32 b
This is God’s response to the faithful actions of His servants. Notice this says nothing about things that are outward or even anything that has to do with the source of the burdens we bear, but rather instead has everything to do with our inner selves, our hearts, or spirits you could say. The psalmist cried out to God because his “soul” was overloaded and we too should recognize that all of the burdens of life affect us most intimately and profoundly on the spiritual level. In our grief and under our burdens we can so easily get caught up on the symptoms of our struggles rather than really getting to the source. God always addresses the source of such things. Consider, the story of the paralytic brought to Jesus by his friends who cared so deeply for him they broke a hole in the ceiling of the house and lowered him in so he could get to Jesus. Take a moment to read Luke 5:17-26 and notice what Jesus saw first and how that led Him to respond.
Did you read it? Did you notice what Christ saw first when the man was lowered into the house? Jesus saw faith! Then He proclaimed the solution to the man’s real needs, that is the forgiveness of sins. The paralytic was brought for the purpose of physical healing but he received so much more when he came to Jesus. And the same is true for anyone who will come to Jesus in such faith. In this story of the paralytic the man found healing for his soul as well as for his body but we must recognize that God does not always take away the sources of our burdens in this life but chooses instead to “enlarge my heart” so that with His help we can better endure them and better cast them before His feet. We can site many examples of this throughout Scripture but among the greatest of them we must consider the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
God told Paul that though he struggled with his “thorn in the flesh” His grace was enough for him. That sounds nice but I will tell you, I don’t think that is the answer Paul wanted to hear, and I know it is definitely not the answer I want to hear when I am struggling. Yet it is often what we really need in order to grow in the ways the Lord would have us too. Which in the end is not just better for ourselves but better for all those we come in contact with. So let’s now take a moment to consider how the Lord can “enlarge my heart” and how that is the solution to getting above life’s burdens.
Imagine your burdens as a chain which constricts and restrains your soul (your life). Then imagine that chain is tied back to the existence of sin in all of creation. Now, sin is what gives that chain real weight and power in your life. You are unable to fully escape the chain with its weight/power because as long as you live in a sinful world and in sinful flesh it will always be there.
However, God is able and desires to enlarge your heart. How does He do this? By what the psalmist pointed out earlier in the psalm in his six appeals and actions. Specifically, God’s Word, Work and Way. So now imagine your soul (life) as a container that when you submit to God’s Word, Work and Way you are filled up with the things of Him (His Grace) and grow. Now the chain does not change, it remains the same but as you grow you pull more and more slack from the power of sin (the ultimate source of our burdens) in your life. Also notice that though the chain is the same size it appears smaller because your soul has grown larger thanks to the Lord.
What we must realize is this, that you can never be fully free from the burdens of this life. As soon as you get rid of one burden you will pick up another and that is why you must daily choose God’s Word, Work and Way so that your heart (your life) continues to enlarge and you are better able to cast all your burdens before God and take upon yourself the yoke that He has prepared for you. It is only then we can enjoy the abundant life which Jesus came to give us. There is strength in the Lord, this is why Paul proclaimed in 2 Corinthians 12:10 “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” This is what Christ was pushing us towards when He spoke the words of Matthew 11:28-30.
“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.” Matthew 11:28-30
At the foot of Christ, we come to lay down our burdens and even all of our strength recognizing we cannot do this alone and when we do so He takes our burdens and instead gives us His burdens, His purposes, which should then be our focus as we wander down life’s road. If we want to get above life’s burdens, we must first find ourselves at the feet of Christ and receive a hand up to be placed on the Solid Rock Who withstood the great penalty of mankind’s sin and therefore can withstand any burden that comes against Him.