The Bible gives us directions concerning how we are to handle our worries. For example, in one of His many exhortations to the disciples, Jesus addressed this issue: “. . . do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25) The Savior’s followers were wrestling with the personal implications of serving Him; one such implication centered on their ability to secure the basics of life for themselves. They were being distracted by doubt and anxiety.
After reminding the disciples that God cares for the birds of the air and beautifies the grass with lilies, Jesus told them not to concern themselves with food, drink, or clothing because their heavenly Father was aware of their needs. Therefore, the disciples were told to focus their attention on God’s kingdom and His righteousness, knowing that God Himself would supply the necessities of life. (cf. Matt. 6:30-33) The same idea is found in 1 Pet. 5: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (vv. 6, 7)
While Jesus focused on the basic necessities of life, Peter’s exhortation is broader and includes whatever causes us anxiety. These two passages teach us that our heavenly Father cares for us and we may confidently bring our concerns to Him. We do not have to bear our burdens alone because we have the promise of God’s merciful and loving reception of our petitions.
Regrettably, I think some Christians assume that, if God chooses to respond to their pleas for relief, the burden will go away. When this does not happen, they become discouraged and their anxiety is increased because they assume that their faith is weak. The problem, however, may not be doubt or weak faith. The problem may be an incorrect expectation.
The Bible does not tell us that God will take away our burdens when we seek His assistance in prayer. The promise is that He is aware of our circumstances and will help us handle our troubles, not by the removal of our concerns, but by the grace of perseverance. Consequently, our burdens become opportunities for maturity and the joyful experience of God’s affection.
When we cast our burdens on God, we are inevitably reminded of various aspects of His nature, such as His comprehensive understanding, unequaled power, perfect righteousness, enduring truthfulness, and unchanging faithfulness. We realize that we are no longer attempting to serve Him profitably while, at same time, having our energies drained due to issues we do not control. Instead, we are able to relax in confidence knowing that our magnificent God, who is our heavenly Father, is with us and will guide us and protect us as His purposes are realized.
This point of view is dramatically different from what I described earlier. We find ourselves encouraged and hopeful in the midst of trying circumstances. Moreover, God is glorified. This is the result when we obey the Word and rest in the goodness and wisdom of God.