God's Sustaining Power
" Like snails I see the people go
Along the sidewalks and row on row
And each one on his shoulder bears
A coiling shell of heavy cares,
The spirals of his own affairs
Some peer about, some creep on blind."
-- Eleanor Hammond
Burdens are a part of life.
We all will have our share of burdens.
If we are to live victoriously, we must know how to handle them.
The psalmist tells us how when he writes, " Cast thy burden up on the Lord,
and He shall sustained thee." (Psalm 55:22)
It is as simple as that.
It is as profound as that.
This great affirmation is couched not in the context of a lament.
It was first spoken by a man who was being harassed, troubled, and oppressed by an enemy.
(Psalm 55: 3)
We do not know what his enemy was doing to him.
We only know that he was sorely distressed by the situation.
What makes matters worse is that this enemy was someone he thought was his friend.
He was someone he had known well, that he had trusted, and in whom he had great faith.
Someone he thought was a friend let him down.
In that situation he cries out to God, "Oh that I had wings like a dove!
For then would I fly away, and be at rest." (Psalm 55: 6)
His first inclination was to run away from life.
Many of us have felt that way at times.
But, as he thought about it, he realized that peace is not a matter of position, but of disposition.
What he needed was not wings to fly away, but feet to stand, and strength and grace to stay.
It was then that he came to this conclusion: " Cast thy burden up on the Lord
and He will sustain you."
There are two words in this promise that should get our attention.
The first is the word, " burden."
The root meaning of this word is " to give" or " what comes."
It carries with it the idea that is given to us by providence or what comes to us as our lot in life.
It made refer to sickness, to an accident, to financial reverses, or to anything beyond our control.
Whatever life hands us, we are to lay it upon the Lord.
The second word it is the word, " sustain."
This word means " to keep," " to nourish," " to strengthen."
It is a word that is used three other times in the Old Testament.
It is the first used by the Lord when he told Elijah to go to the widow of Zarephath
and she would sustain him. (1 Kings 17: 9)
Elijah went to the widow.
And the widow provided him food and shelter to meet his needs in a difficult time in his life.
The word, " sustain," is used a second time by Nehemiah when
he recounts Israel's wilderness wanderings. (Nehemiah 9:21)
During the 40 years the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness they lacked nothing they needed.
Their clothes never wore out, their shoes never wore out, and their feet and didn't even swell.
Doesn't that seem strange?
What does it mean?
It suggests that God got Israel through the wilderness on her feet.
She didn't limp into the promised land.
She marched in victoriously.
The third time, " sustain," is used by Solomon when he writes,
" The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity." (Proverbs 18:14)
In the same way Elijah's needs were supplied in his time of distress, in the same way
God took Israel through the wilderness on their feet.
So, the Lord will sustain us.
He will see us through if we cast our burdens upon him.
The Psalmist does not tell us how God will sustain us, and we do not need to know.
He only assures us that He will and that is enough.
He will strengthen and sustain us.
There are some burdens we need to cast upon the Lord.
We need to cast the burden of sin and guilt on the Lord.
We need to cast the burden of suffering and sorrow on the Lord.
We need to cast the burden of disappointments and hurts on the Lord.
We need to cast the burden of pressure and responsibility on the Lord.
We need to cast the burden of worry and anxiety on the Lord.
We need to cast the burden of sin and guilt on the Lord.
We fail and we know it.
Sometimes, we are not good parents.
Sometimes we are not good husbands
children that we know we ought to be.
So, we feel guilty about our failures and we need and want forgiveness.
The kind of burden of sin and guilt was expressed by a leading government official
who was sentenced to four years in prison, and fined $5000 for passing insider information
to a stockbroker.
After his conviction he said, " I have destroyed a life of achievement based on trust and integrity.
The last two years have been a living nightmare.
I don't like myself as well as I used to."
-- Time Magazine, 5, 20,'85, page 24
Sin and guilt will always chip away at our self-image.
And if you are carrying around a load of guilt, then you don't like yourself as well as you used to.
This is a burden that clearly must be cast upon the Lord.
There is only one quick and healthy way to forgiveness and cleansing from sin,
and that way is given to us by our Lord.
It is to confess, repent, give restitution, and forgiveness.
This is God's method.
God will forgive and remove our sins and our guilt.
He doesn't want us to be saddled down with the past.
God promises us that He will remove our sins as far as the east is from the west.
He promises to put our sins behind Him and will not remember them again.
So, if you give your sins to the Lord, you need never face them again.
Then, we also need to cast the burden of suffering and sorrow upon the Lord.
Joseph Parker, a prominent preacher of the last century, used to say to young ministers,
" Men, preach on suffering and you will never lack a congregation.
There is a broken heart in every pew."
And there is so much sorrow in our world.
Sometimes, it is a bad or broken marriage
an overbearing boss
a chronic illness
an economic struggle
a wayward child
a boring job, and you can add
many other burdens to this list.
For many years I was pastor of a congregation in which there was always someone dying.
It was so difficult to see my friends and loved ones slowly wasting away.
How can we bear such burdens?
To our broken hearts Jesus says, " Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God,
believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself;
that where I am there ye may be also.
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto him, 'Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,
but by me." (John 14: 1-6)
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12: 9 that God assures us that " My grace is sufficient for thee."
Pain and suffering are difficult to bear, but by God's grace we can do it.
" Cast your burden up on the Lord, and He will sustain you." (Psalm 55:22)
Then, our disappointments and our hurts are burdens we should cast upon the Lord.
It is inevitable as we go through life that we will be hurt by and disappointed in people.
Sometimes, people do things and say things intentionally, and sometimes, unintentionally,
but nevertheless, we are hurt
we are wounded.
Some people become angry, bitter, and resentful toward those who hurt them
and in the process they end up being hurt twice.
Once by the person who wronged them, and again, by their own anger and bitterness.
If you have been hurt by or disappointed in others, I have good news for you.
The Lord can take away that burden.
God will rectify that which is wrong, and we must believe that to God.
Lincoln once said, " I don't relish playing God."
Neither should we.
But that's what we do when we try to get even with people who hurt us.
We can trust the justice of God.
By His grace we can forgive and forget.
" Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you." (Psalm 55:22)
We also need to cast the burden of pressure and responsibility upon the Lord.
Life is filled with both.
Rearing a family, making a living, maintaining a business, growing up, and resisting temptation
are just a few of the pressures that we have on us.
Did you ever sing: " Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream."
That is a joke!
You don't row downstream.
You have to row upstream.
And life often is not a dream; it can be a nightmare.
We have to buck the currents of life and that is tough.
General George S. Patton, who commanded the Third Army as it swept across Europe
in World War II.
The day before he was to return to the states he was involved in an automobile accident
that paralyzed him from the waist down.
For days his life hung in the balance.
One day he had a terrible coughing spasm, and the doctor said to him,
" Hang on General. Hang on."
And General Patton replied, " I am so tired of just hanging on."
How does God lift your burdens?
Well, often it is not by taking it from us.
God does not weaken us by doing everything for us.
God may not lighten the load we are bearing.
He will strengthen us with his spirit in the inner person.
Phillips Brooks wrote, " Do not pray for a task equal to your powers,
pray for power equal to your task."
This is the help God is eager to supply.
We cannot escape our duties and responsibilities.
But we can be free from the strain and stress which accompany them if we will commit
ourselves to the care of our heavenly Father.
" Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you," covers the pressures
and responsibilities of life.
Finally, I would add that we should cast the burden of worry and anxiety upon the Lord.
An old joke about a woman who goes to the doctor and complains, " I am all run down."
The doctor responded, " Madam, your trouble is not that you are run down,
but that you are all wound up."
A lot of people are all wound up -- tense, nervous, afraid, anxious.
Someone has defined worry as, " A thin stream of fear trickling through our mind.
If it is encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all our thoughts are drained."
Bulstrode Whitelocke, the British Ambassador to the Hague during the days of Oliver Cromwell,
was tossing on his bed one night.
He was unable to sleep because he was so anxious about the future of his country.
An old servant, sensing his anxiety asked, " Sir, may I ask you a question?"
" Certainly," replied the ambassador.
" Sir, did God govern the world before you came into it?"
The ambassador replied, " Undoubtedly."
The servant then asked, " And will He govern the world well when you have gone out of it?"
The ambassador replied, " Undoubtedly!"
" Then, sir, can you not trust Him to govern the world well while you are in it?"
There was no reply, but the ambassador turned on his side and fell asleep.
We must commit our entire uncertain future into God's strong hands.
So, let us trust His power, wisdom, and grace.
Cast your burden on Him -- the eternal, almighty God, and He will sustain you.
James Jeffrey, a former All-American football player and a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,
spoke at one of Baylor University's homecoming activities.
A few months earlier he had learned that he had pancreatic cancer.
The doctors had given him less than a year to live.
As he spoke, he said, " I have told people all my life that Jesus is all you need.
But you never truly know Jesus is all you need until you get to the place where He is all you've got.
And when He's all you've got, then you know He's all you need."
1 Peter 5: 7: " Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."
Don't ever for get that.
He cares for you.
That is why you can trust Him with life's burdens.
Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L White