A memento of divine affection

(J. R. Miller, "Things to Live For" 1896)

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

This privilege is a very precious one. We all have our burden. No matter how happy anyone is—he is bearing some weight of care, or sorrow, or responsibility. Continually we find our load too heavy for our own unaided strength. We feel that we cannot carry it without help. Human love comes up close beside us, willing, if it were possible, to take the burden from our shoulder, and carry it for us. But this is not possible. "Every man must bear his own burden." Most of life's loads, are not transferable.

Take pain, for instance. No tenderest, truest love—can bear our pain for us, or even bear any smallest part of it.

Or take sorrow. As close as human friendship may come to us when our heart is breaking with grief—it cannot take from us any least portion of the anguish we suffer, as we meet bereavement.

Or take struggle with temptation. We can get no human help in it, and must pass through the struggle alone.

It will be noticed, too, that God Himself does not promise to bear our burden for us. So much is it an essential and inseparable part of our life—that even divine love will not relieve us of its weight.

The teaching from all this, is that we cannot hope to have our life-burden lifted off. Help cannot come to us, in the way of relief. The prayer to be freed from the load, cannot be answered. The assurance is—not that the Lord will take away our burden when we cast it upon Him, lifting it away from our shoulder. It is, instead, a promise that while we bear our burden, whatever it may be—that the Lord will sustain us. "Cast your burden upon the Lord—and He shall sustain you." He will give us strength to continue faithful, to go on with our doing of His will, unimpeded, unhindered, by the pressure of the load we must carry.

An alternative rendering of this verse is, "Cast your gift upon the Lord—and He shall sustain you." Thus we see, that our burden is a gift of God to us! At once the thing, which a moment ago seemed so oppressive in its weight, so unlovely in its form—is hallowed and transformed! We had thought it to be an evil—whose effect upon us could be only hurtful, hindering our growth, marring our happiness. But now we see that it is another of God's blessings, not evil—but good, designed not to hurt us, nor to impede our progress—but to help us onward!

A gift from a human friend, is a token and pledge of their love for us. In like manner, God sent this gift to us—because He loves us. It is a memento of divine affection. It may be hard for us to understand this. It may be a burden of pain, and pain seems so opposed to comfort—that we cannot see how it can be a gift of love. It may be sorrow; and sorrow never for the present seems to be joyous—but always grievous. It may be great loss—the stripping from us of life's pleasant things, leaving emptiness and desolation. How such burdens as these can be tokens of divine affection, God's gift of love—it is hard for us to conceive. Yet we know that God is our Father, and that His love for us never fails. Whatever comes from His hand to us—must be sent in love!

The world offers attractive things—pleasures, gains, promises of honor and delight. To the eye of sense, these appear to be life's best things. But too often they enfold bitterness and hurt, the fruit of evil. At the bottom of the cup—are dregs of poison! On the other hand, the things that God gives, appear sometimes unattractive, undesirable, even repulsive! We shrink from accepting them. But they enfold, in their severe and unpromising form—the blessings of divine love.

We know how true this is of life's pains and sorrows. Though grievous to sense, they leave in the heart which receives them with faith and trust—the fruits of divine blessing. Whatever our burden may be, it is God's gift, and brings to us some precious thing, from the treasury of divine love. This fact makes it sacred to us. Not to accept it—is to thrust away from us, a blessing sent from heaven. We need, therefore, to treat most reverently—the things in our life, which we call burdens.

We should regard all the gifts of God to us—with affection. This is easy for us so long as these gifts come to us in pleasant form—things that give joy to us. But with no less love and gratitude should we receive and cherish God's gifts, which come in forbidding form. It is the same divine love which sends the one—and also the other. The one is no less good—than the other. There is blessing as truly in the gift of pain or loss or trial—as in the gift of song and gain and gladness. Whatever God sends—we should receive in confidence, as a gift of His love. Thus it is, that our burden, whatever it may be, is hallowed.

It may not always be easy to carry it, for even love sometimes lays heavy burdens on the shoulders of its beloved. A wise father does not seek always to make life easy for his child. Nothing could be more unkind! He would have his child grow strong—and, therefore, he refuses to take away the hard task. God is too loving and kind, too true a father—to give us only easy things. He makes the burden heavy—that we may become strong in bearing it. But He is always near; and He gives us the help we need, that we may never faint beneath it. Thus we may always know, that our burden is our Father's gift to us!