Cast your burden on the Lord

Psalm 55 begins in despair and anguish.  In the first five verses, the psalmist speaks of being troubled and distraught (verse 2), of being in anguish and terror (verse 4), and of being overwhelmed by fear, trembling and horror (verse 5).  By verses 6-8, the psalmist is ready to run away from it all: “O that I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest; truly, I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter for myself from the raging wind and tempest.”

As the psalm continues, we learn that the psalmist’s emotional pain stems from being betrayed by a friend: “With speech smoother than butter, but with a heart set on war; with words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords” (verse 21).  Betrayal by a friend or loved one is one of the cruelest injuries a person can experience. 

Norma Swetnam shares, “Some theologians interpret hell as alienation from God.  I have experienced such a hell while in the throes of depression—a terrible sense of aloneness and isolation from everything, from everybody and from God.  This results in a loss of hope for the future, and without hope what is there?”  That seems to be the experience of the psalmist. 

Yet, despite the betrayal and the feeling of despair, the psalmist clings to the hope that God is faithful and will carry us through our lowest times.  Verse 22 declares, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” 

Hudson Taylor, missionary to China in the late 19th century, was deeply discouraged and fearful that he would not be able to continue his work in China.  As he prayed for strength and for the means to continue his work, he came upon this very verse: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.”  Springing to his feet, he cried, “This fear-allaying truth has evaded me too long!  I see it all now.  if we are obeying the Lord and still run into difficulty, the heavy responsibility rests with Him, not with us!”  Then he prayed, “Lord, You shall have all the burden!  At Your bidding I will go forward, leaving the results with You.”  With lightened heart, Hudson Taylor went on to establish a great work in China.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.”

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