Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)
Worry is an insidious and persistent enemy. It’s the little voice that constantly intrudes, even in those moments of success or victory, reminding you of things and weaknesses that may or may not be true. It masquerades as the voice of reason, trying to convince you that your faith is presumption, that there are no ‘spiritual guarantees,’ that you cannot be absolutely sure that God will move to aid you in your particular situation. It sneaks in just as you’ve made a decision, raising up confusion and uncertainty, undermining your conviction. There really is only one solution to the problem of worry – we are to cast our burden on the Lord.
Victory over worry is a constant, ongoing, active decision of faith.
One of the most prevalent misconceptions today is that a relationship of absolute faith and trust in God is essentially passive. Because God can and will accomplish all that is needed – because we can do nothing in and of ourselves – we need only sit back, get comfortable, and let Him get on with it. Nothing could be further from the truth, and especially when it comes to dealing with things like worry. No command of God ever commands us to be passive. Even ‘rest in Him’ and ‘be still and know’ involve our active engagement – to surrender self, to still the other voices, to fix our eyes on Him. All these things require us to actually do something.
The difference in the ‘doing’ lies in the fact that what we are required to do is usually against our natural inclination. The real truth is that to ‘be still and know’ involves effort on our part, and often more effort than it does to continue in the fleshly activities that we usually rely on to fill the quiet spaces. Walking with God – the Christian life – is the one thing in life that will demand every single part of us be involved in the process of growth and maturity. Aside from the active engagement – loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength – there is also the constant battle against ourselves and the powers of darkness. Worry is often our most powerful enemy in this battle, because it so often sneaks in without being obvious.
We need to see the true nature of this little beast. The first truth is that worry has it’s roots in fear – the second most powerful human emotion. Only perfect love casts out all fear, the perfect love of God and His indwelling presence, and this gives us a pretty good idea of just how powerful fear really is. Like love, fear can spur people on to accomplish anything, even the impossible. That’s the power of it. But fear is usually very obvious. We can see it and recognise it for what it is, and we can also usually meet it head on. To circumvent this, fear uses smaller enemies like worry, anxiety, stress, and apprehension to slide in under the spiritual radar.
They work because we have a tendency to disregard them or to accept them as being human nature, something we cannot help. In essence, we accept that we are subject to our own natural human weaknesses. While on one level this is true – we are human, and will continue to display human weaknesses until the day we are perfected in glory – but we are expected, in our spiritual growth, to learn to recognise, combat, and subdue these weaknesses with God’s help. That is the very essence of being transformed from glory to glory. Things like worry will continue to plague us, because self will always set itself up against the things of God and try to impose control.
Today’s verse raises two very interesting points. The first lies in the word ‘cast.’ Our first impression might be that of a fisherman casting out his net, and while it’s not totally accurate in this context, it does capture an essential meaning – that the activity has a purpose. It’s not random or without thought or intent. The real definition of ‘cast’ is to ‘throw (something) forcefully in a specified direction.’ We can immediately see that this involves us completely – it requires intent, purpose, deliberate aim, conscious effort, and emotional determination. It involves body, mind, and emotions. This is a fundamental principle in dealing with issues like worry. It’s active, not passive.
Before we come to the second point, let’s look at the word ‘burden’ for a moment. It basically involves being heavily loaded, carrying something with great difficulty, or to be oppressed or troubled. Of course, worry fits squarely into this. Burden also implies something that weighs us down or holds us down or back. This clearly reveals the purpose of worry – to interfere with our Christian walk, to stunt our maturity, and to prevent us from growing in faith and the grace of God.
This is the point, of course, where comfortable Christianity jumps us and reminds us very smugly that ‘the battle belongs to the Lord.’ Of course it does. We cannot refute this and hold true to the Bible. But God still requires us to participate in the battle. Jesus prayed that we would be protected in the world, not removed from it, and protection implies that we need protecting from something. If, as Christians, we somehow excluded from the battle, why would we need protection? A soldier didn’t wear armour in his home. He wore it into battle. The battle against worry – or against any enemy, great or small – is ours to fight in the strength and grace and power of God.
Gideon is a very good example of the practical and active participation. In Judges 7:9, God tells Gideon that He will deliver the Midianites into his hand. The battle was the Lord’s, not Gideons. He deliberately whittled down Gideon’s army to a mere handful for the specific reason that the Israelites would not be able to claim any victory as their own but recognise that it was God’s victory. But, and here’s the key, Gideon was told to go down to the Midianite camp. Until Gideon went, God would not effect the victory. The Christian life works on the same principles – active participation in the battle that God will ensure victory in if we walk with Him.
And this brings us to that second point – the righteous. This is the crux of our faith and of the assurance of victory. It is the righteous who will not be moved, who will be empowered to stand in the battle and to win through to the victory. Our verse today does not say that we should sit back and let God get on with it. It says that we should actively, deliberately, consciously, practically, forcefully, and continually cast our burden – our worry – onto the Lord. The righteous are those who walk in faith, with hearts seeking always to obey and to surrender self, who have determined to live by Word and Spirit and worship Him in all they say and do. His promise to us is that, if we are righteous, and if we take the initiative and cast our burden on Him, He will be faithful to sustain us and ensure that we will not be defeated.
There are all too many Christians who still bear the burden of worry. It invades their thoughts, their minds, and their emotions and undermines their standing in Christ. It stirs up its fellows, too – confusion, guilt, inadequacy – which in turn add to the weight of the burden. The very fact that they still worry causes them to question their righteousness. As a result, their faith is slowly eroded. And as all this happens, worry gains a foothold and begins to grow. It’s a stark truth that even the tiniest worry, if fed and nurtured, will ultimately grow into fear – that thing that raises itself up in bold defiance to the love of God which encapsulates all His mercy, grace, and spiritual blessings.
Even worry that is ignored – pushed aside by a pretence of faith that God has the victory – will grow. This is because faith, like everything else that is of God is essentially active. It has to be acted upon in order to manifest. Ignoring worry is not active, it’s passive, and passivity is epitome of the ‘victim mentality.’ God has already, through Christ, assured the victory over every burden we may carry. Most of these burdens come with worry of some kind or another. That is the natural human response, but the moment we act against the worry and remove that from the equation, the problem is open to God’s work for resolution.
The greatest danger of worry is that it interferes with God’s work in our lives. It creates a barrier between us and His power to save, heal, deliver, and provide. This is the reason why, over and over, we are warned about worry. ‘Fear not,’ or ‘be anxious for nothing’ are just two examples that come readily to mind, but the entire Bible is filled with similar verses. Jesus taught in detail about worry. When God Himself focuses on this, shouldn’t we also take a step back and adjust our focus?
What this means is, firstly, that we recognise our worry. We must learn to know the little thoughts and suggestions that are worries. Then, we must apply the Word of God. That is the sword of truth that we wield in the battle. We must do that in absolute faith that His Word will always be fulfilled. For every worry, God has provided a sword-thrust in His Word. The righteous, who live in His Word, will find it. We can be assured that God already has the victory, but we must enact it. When we take up the sword of truth in obedience, when we deliver the sword stroke, it is in His power – the power of Word and Spirit that cannot fail when we move in obedience and surrender to Him.
Does this mean that we emerge victorious after a single battle and never have to deal with worry again? Absolutely not. Our battle is ongoing. It will continue until the end of the age. Human beings will constantly battle against worry because it’s a manifestation of the flesh, and because the enemy knows our weakness and will use it over and over to undermine our faith and walk with God. If we ignore it, we only give self and Satan the victory. But with each battle, with each small victory in Him, our faith grows stronger, our discernment sharpens, our hearts grow bolder. We look past the worry to the power of God, and we move more readily to effect His defeat.
Our walk with God is just that – a walk. It’s also the ‘good fight of faith.’ Nowhere in the Bible does it say we can avoid the burdens, or that we can simply settle into complacent Christianity and let God do it. He does do it, but has chosen to do it through us because that’s how we grow and are transformed into His likeness. All the promises of God are ‘yea and amen in Christ.’ That means they already exist as spiritual realities. But we will never live in them if we don’t engage in the battle. Our worry or burden will continue until we engage all that we are in actively casting it upon Him by stepping out in the truth of His Word.
It’s a daily fight. Sometimes, if the issues are large and especially difficult, it will be an hourly, or even a moment by moment fight. The longer we avoid the confrontation and try to find the easy way round it, the longer we will wait for the deliverance of God. While worry is in the way, we will not enjoy full victory. We often lose sight of the fact that victory encompasses growth. It’s through the battle that ‘all things work to the good of those who love the Lord.’ It doesn’t say ‘all good things.’ It says ‘all things,’ and that includes our burdens and our battles. The greatest victory over worry is God using it to perfect His work in us. Winning the war against worry is not instant. It’s a series of constant battles, some larger than others, in the strength of Him who already has victory.
When we grow in righteousness, when the battle against worry becomes the tool in God’s hands to grow us in faith and obedience, worry is truly defeated. It will sneak back in, but in our new discernment and His strength, we will be ready, and so we will be gradually transformed towards our final victory in eternity. Be encouraged, today, to take a stand against this insidious enemy. Take back the ground that has been slowly eroded, and know that as you actively engage your enemy – the weaknesses of the flesh which are the devil’s playground – He will sustain you and cause your to stand.
Your grace and wisdom, Lord, are beyond our understanding. Forgive us if we’ve tried to take the easy way out. Empower us now with Your Word and Your Spirit, and give us discernment to recognise the worry that undermines our faith and Christian walk. Help us to walk in righteousness, and enable us to take a stand in You, trusting not in our own strength or ability but in Your promises and Your power to achieve that which we cannot.