The Lifted Load.
by J. R. Rollo
THE pattern of life holds for most of us many anxieties. The many-sided activities of the everyday existence present problems and ever recurring challenges to faith. These do not grow less exacting with the passing of the years and the increase of responsibility in family, church and business life. As the web of circumstance expands, new difficulties crop up. For some it is illness of self or loved ones, for some the unfolding years afford only the prospect of loneliness, for some the sudden stab of a broken friendship or of acute financial crisis gives a sudden jolt to our complacency. Even our church life with its interplay of personalities is not free from strain. There are many desolating heart-breaking things whose grim reality we cannot explain away.
The man of unbelief endeavors to match his courage against his circumstances, adopting an attitude of stoicism, fatalism or resignation. The philosophy of the skeptic depicts God as an absentee monarch who has abdicated in favor of a set of cast-iron laws. The events of today are the end-result of a remorseless chain of happenings purely mechanical in its outworking.
To the Christian it is not so. The apostolic way of coping with worry is to bring God into it, to recognize His absolute control over events large and small, and to be assured of the unfolding of a Divine purpose. The will of God is the wisdom and power of God expressed in terms of His love. Is all this mere wishful thinking depending on one's temperament?
There are three witnesses at least to the principles involved; men of different training, background, temperament and experience.
Peter was a man of moods, mercurial and impulsive. He had been a fisherman, a calling of hazard and uncertainty. His had been no easy existence. He does not deny worry or care as elements of experience. He is too realistic a man to do that. What he prescribes is just this—Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you. This is the fundamental transforming fact. God is not only sovereign, but He cares. Either we believe that wholeheartedly or else we do not believe it at all. In the light that streams from Calvary, partial belief is impossible. Is God greater than the opposing circumstances? If not, He is not God. Is He in complete control of events? He must be if He is God. Is He unaware of the particular twist that has brought the cause of strain? He is the God without whose knowledge no fledging sparrow ever falls to the ground. Fondle this sublime truth when shadows gather. He knows, He loves, He cares. Primarily this verse in I Peter 5: 7 is for those who have a care for the flock, but the principle is the same for all.
The Psalmist David speaks next. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee" (Psa. 55: 22). What right has this man to speak? This was God's emergency man who was brought from the silences of the desert to be captain of the host. Had he been sheltered from a thousand ills in a life of cloistered ease? Did he not know that uneasy lies the head that wears a crown? Without a shadow of doubt, this man is testifying from the depths of experience. Earlier he had learned, "Mine iniquities as a heavy burden are too heavy for me" (Psa. 38: 4), but elsewhere (Psa. 51), he joins voice with Isaiah: "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." This is the base of his conviction. The One Who would bear the burden of his sin, would bear the burden of his care. The marginal reading calls the burden a gift. Surely this is the triumph of faith. Thus illumined, it appears as a transaction between the soul and God, not haphazard, not accidental, but appointed. And with the gift of the strange trial comes the gift of sustaining grace. Someone has told of a small boy in the back premises of his father's shop. The child is holding out his arms to receive parcels from his father to be carried to the other side of the room. A visitor observes the increasing burden and remonstrates that it is too much. The boy's answer is calm and confident: "Father knows how much I can carry." Few there are who would not covet a like spirit of trustfulness in the Divine Father Whose hand has entrusted us with the burden. Even if we have reached the place where Job was when he said, "I am a burden to myself" (chapter 7: 20), the grace of God is sufficient.
The third witness is Paul, who has the holy audacity to exhort the saints in Philippi: "Be anxious for nothing." In an atmosphere charged with hostility and persecution, this prisoner of the Lord is undaunted. Some folks regard Paul as an intellectual. Is he talking theory here? Is this an academic ideal divorced from the stern realities of life? Look deep into the apostle's life. Causes for anxiety there were in abundance. He was misunderstood by his brethren, his physical appearance was despised, he suffered from an incurable disease, he had the cares of a mighty parish upon his soul. Out of this shadow-stressed background rises this man of faith prepared to praise in the midnight gloom. With the challenging counsel to be careful for nothing, he couples an exhortation to be thankful for everything, investing each circumstance with the aura of prayer.
In the activity of prayer, the problem is spread out before God. It is identified in its true proportions, but more than that, it is brought into the perspective of the sanctuary. In the reckoning of God, our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4: 17). It is not without significance that the only other occurrence of the word `light' is in Matt. 11: 30, where our Lord says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The burden so heavy when accepted as from Him is borne in His strength and by a mysterious alchemy becomes light.
The opening year may call many of us through test and stress personal and searching. Blessed is the man who trusteth in Thee. Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee.
"Light and Liberty" 1963