Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. — Psalm 55:22
I’ve read that verse many time. And yet, despite my familiarity with that verse, I’ve still sometimes felt unsettled, insecure, and shaken to my core. Over time, my questions became: How was I to process that promise? Had God failed to honor his Word by allowing me to be shaken or was something else at the root of my fretfulness?
I came to a point of having to decide if I was going to believe God is faithful or not. Blaming God would have been the quickest and easiest way to reconcile what I truly wanted with what I was actually experiencing. This crisis drove me to look at God’s promise more carefully. The first thing I had to consider was that Psalm 55:22 was written for the righteous—for those who live in obedience and correct standing with God through Jesus Christ.
I knew unconfessed sin would shake a believer; so when I felt shaken, my wisest response was to first evaluate if such sin was causing my distress. Through this state of being persistently shaken, I was driven to evaluate more deeply the depth of my sinful mindset. I had to learn to pray as David prayed in Psalm 139:23–24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Suddenly, the reason for my anxiousness became evident: I wasn’t taking God at his word.
From that persistent feeling of instability, I had to evaluate how I was casting my burden. I realized I frequently gave a token casting of my burden only to retrieve it before it reached God’s lap, running away with it once again. I didn’t realize I was unable to leave my burden with him. Consequently, as the Lord continued to allow me to feel unsteady, he was nevertheless teaching me how to truly cast and release my burden onto him.
An older woman who invested her time to mentor me better illustrated what the command “cast your burden” meant. She explained I could not hold on to it, nor give it a flippant toss. I had to cast it. I had to cast it with direction behind it, to the Lord, like casting a fishing line— throwing it afar off, quickly and with force. I had to cast my burden to the Lord before I could hope to be sustained.
She also explained that carrying our burdens will absolutely shake us. Scripture often likens us to sheep. Sheep are not burden-bearing animals. “In fact,” she said, “put a load on a sheep and it will die of a heart attack. That’s why we never see sheep with a backpack. . . . That is not their design, nor is it ours.” I then began to understand that, as Christ’s sheep, we are designed to cast our burden onto him. He is designed to carry our load.
The Lord uses our burdens to force us to lift our voice and say to him, “Lord, you must take this!” Every time worry hits—every single time—we must give it back to him. It’s ok to say, “Lord, I don’t know how to do this . . . but you know; and you’ve promised me your peace in this. Please teach me not only to cast my burden onto you, but how to leave it with you.”
This is the beginning of being sustained; of feeling stable and unmoved.
Odd as it seems, this is one lesson the Lord is graciously teaching us in the midst of distressing circumstances. When we review Scripture, we see how the Lord fulfilled his promises to his people. If we look at our own circumstances we can begin to piece together how the Lord has remained faithful even in our most difficult periods. Over time, this becomes an encouragement to us; and as we remember his faithfulness, we remember also to keep giving our burdens to him.
There will come moments when the peace that we seek from God will come—and what a joyous moment that is! However, we can’t consider it done or we’ll revert to old habits and before we know it, we’re shaken again. But, be encouraged! Our Lord is so gracious that when that happens we need only say, “Lord, forgive me, I picked this burden up again. Thank you for reminding me to give it back to you.”
Our feeling shaken is to remind us to run to our Shepherd. It’s an internal gauge, prompting us to entrust our burden to God and to depend solely on him. We cannot listen to ourselves when we are tempted to feel God is not keeping his promises. Instead, we must rehearse reminding ourselves that he is faithful and continue to cast all on him.
If we are not experiencing the promises of Scripture, we must (re)evaluate what it is that we are missing and not assume that God is somehow lacking. In the end, we will be assured that our Shepherd is lacking in nothing he has promised to his sheep. This is how the righteous remain sustained.