May the Spirit of the Lord speak into your life as you meditate on these thoughts is my prayer.
It is my desire to share a word of encouragement in this message connected to the burden of opposition; the burden of personal struggles; and the burden of physical decline.
Let me remind you it is the common experience of believers to face problems in this life. No one is exempt. Seasons of struggle arise seemingly from nowhere. The peace of still waters can suddenly be turned into a raging sea of persecution and associated affliction, personal struggles, or the physical decline of sickness and aging.
May I prophesy to you and say with all the authority of God’s word: “The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” And furthermore, “they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”
Hear me today: we face our battles and carry our burdens, but we trust in the Lord and we seek the Lord. AND THE LORD WILL NOT FORSAKE THEM THAT SEEK HIM!
Brother Walt Mills penned a song a few years ago and the chorus simply says:
Well, I’ve got a feeling everything’s gonna be alright
Yea, I’ve got a feeling everything’s gonna be alright, be alright, be alright.
Perhaps many of you remember some of the words in a song made popular by the McKamey’s entitled, “The God on the Mountain is Still God in the Valley.” Part of the words say:
Life is easy, when you’re up on the mountain. And you've got peace of mind. Like you've never known.
But then things change and you’re down in the valley. Don't lose hope for your never alone.
For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley. When things go wrong He'll make them right.
Said another way, God will prove faithful and he will not forsake those who seek him!
Look with me now at our text in Psalm 55:16-23:
16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.
You will notice verse 22 which says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
As I studied in preparation for this message, I discovered an interesting insight into the word burden found in this passage. The Hebrew word for “burden” is only used here in the entire Old Testament and it literally means gift or portion. The point is the difficulty faced is assigned or given to us by the Lord. It becomes our portion. We could say the Lord permitted the burden, or problem.
Our response to such difficulties introduced into our life is probably like David who says earlier in this chapter, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”
However, the Lord does not allow us to run. He takes us through the fire. Our appropriate response is to cast our burden on the Lord and trust him to sustain us. The apostle Peter says it this way when he declares to the church, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
We come now to the first point I want to leave you with, namely that all believers will face the burden of opposition. I should point out the tone with which David writes in Psalm 55 indicates he is referencing his experience detailed in 2 Samuel chapter 15. In that chapter the Bible documents the rebellion of Absalom against his own father, David. Verse 31 of that chapter says:
“And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” Thus, David says in verses 20 and 21 of our text . . . (reread 20-21).
And so David prayed, “turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” In his prayer David cast this unavoidable “portion” dealt to him on the Lord. He cast this burden on the Lord, trusting the Lord to turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.
David prayed, but David also endured a season of difficulty. He fled from Jerusalem for his life and was temporarily displaced from his throne. Right here is an important lesson in our struggles: we lay hold of God in prayer and as we wait for an answer the season of difficulty can seem like a season of silence from the Lord. However, the Lord sustains us while we wait upon him.
Take note, while David was on the run he said the Lord shall never allow the righteous to be moved. It was during the season of great opposition David said in his heart, “But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; BUT I WILL TRUST IN THEE.”
Indeed, those words found fulfillment in the life of David’s rebellious son Absalom who died a young man. He did not live out half his days.
Our opposition today is not identical to David’s, however, listen to these words from Philippians chapter one: “For unto you it is given (here is our burden) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe upon him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
It is likely we are facing a new season of opposition in America. The burden of opposition to the name of Christ and the cause of Christ is ours to bear. It is given to us not only to believe upon the Lord Jesus, but to also suffer for his sake. Just know this: if we are called to carry such a burden, we will cast it on the Lord and he shall sustain us!
Now let me add two simple thoughts today and I am done:
In this life we face many personal burdens, or personal struggles. The Bible teaches us in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” While we all face the common burden of persecution, we do not all face the same personal struggles. May I ask you this: are you fulfilling the law of Christ to love one another as he has loved us?
Will you make yourself available to come along side a fallen brother or sister? Will you make it your business to come along side a fellow believer who is struggling under a spiritual burden? Will you put your shoulder under the weight of
that burden and help them carry it?
Friends, we must function as the body of Christ and when one member suffers the whole body suffers. Let's be a source of encouragement to one another and help bear one another’s burdens.
And finally, we all will face the burden of physical decline as we journey toward home. Paul said it this way in the book of 2nd Corinthians:
1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
We groan and we are burdened in this house we live in, but there is a day coming when this mortal will put on immortality! Praise his name!
Are you ready for the day of physical decline? Are you ready to ultimately leave this world or are you troubled at the thought of dying?
David said in Psalm 38, “mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”
I’m glad when we were dying under the weight of our sin a Savior came from heaven and put his shoulder under our cross and carried it to a hill called Calvary. As the famous hymn says,
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Christ has purchased your forgiveness at the cross! If you come to him, he will lift the burden of guilt and shame, washing you in his own precious blood. If you cry out to him he will save you and set you free. Amen.