Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22, ESV).
As much as we may wish for a day in this lifetime when everything negative finally clears and miraculously remains that way for all eternity, that day is not coming. As long as we are on this earth, we will each experience times of challenge as well as cheerfulness; seasons of adversity along with seasons of joy. So if we expect to wisely and faithfully manage the burdens that God chooses to appoint us, we need to prepare for navigating the hard times in the best possible way.
Because believe it or not, if we’re not careful, we could even succeed at making bad days worse.
We do it through . . .
Worry. Prayerlessness and anxiety steal the peace of God that would blow your mind if you’d let it. His peace “surpasses all understanding,” and is able to “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Nothing is gained by pacing back and forth, sitting up all night, fretting your way through all the possible outcomes. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature” (Matthew 6:27, NKJV)? Worrying only makes things worse. As does . . .
Striving. Doers can work up as much needless trouble as worriers. The drive to fix things, force interactions, or consider yourself the only one who’s able to handle what’s wrong, is sure to put you out ahead of God’s timing in handling the matter His way. “The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20, NKJV). It only introduces more problems.
Gossip. Talking things out can be good, between those who are involved in the issue, but the answers you need for your situation are vertical solutions, not horizontal ones. In widening the field of participants and telling everyone what’s been done to you and by whom, you’re seeking your own support and affirmation, not God’s will and wisdom. And what’s worse, you’re sinning in the process.
Bitterness. When you don’t draw on the grace of God by continuing to love, serve, forgive, and stay united, the only avenue left to you is one that leads toward becoming hard, dry, cold, and bitter. The Bible says to “see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15, ESV).
Despair. This is the worst—giving up, pulling back in isolation, not even choosing to care anymore. At all costs, guard yourself against the negative focus of despondency. An answer to your problem exists, but it’s not waiting for you at the dead-end of despair.
If you’re carrying a heavy burden today, but can’t quickly call to mind the last time you knelt alone behind closed doors and took it to God in prayer, you are fighting what He is wanting to do in you rather than finding Him sufficient for your need. The burdens in your life do not need to be diluted as much as they need to be offloaded in prayer to the One who loves you. Prayer is always the good, better, and best response to any bad situation.
- Does one of these five alternatives describe how you’re handling your current burdens? How can you tell?
- What would help you stay more devoted to prayer? How could you implement this practice?
Heavenly Father, I believe You appoint every part of my life, even those that are harder than others. Today I ask that You accomplish whatever You desire for these ordeals I’m enduring as I cooperate with You in prayer. Guard me from worry, from striving, from seeking my help in others before You, from turning away from You in bitterness, or from despairing of Your goodness. Keep me steadfast here where Your work is done, in ever deeper places of prayer, in Jesus’ name, amen.
— James MacDonald
For more from James MacDonald and the “Walk in the Word” Bible teaching ministry, visit WalkInTheWord.com.