So much of what we experience in this life is so very heavy. So many of the burdens God calls us to carry are so tremendously weighty that they threaten to crush us to the dust. We bear the weight of our own sin and depravity, the shame of doing evil and the pain of failing to do good. We bear the weight of other people’s sin and depravity as they hurt and harm us, sometimes intentionally and sometimes purely inadvertently. We bear the weight of griefs and losses, of illnesses and sorrows, of unhealthy bodies and infirm minds, of broken relationships and shattered dreams. We all at times stagger under the weight of all we are made to bear upon our weak shoulders.
It is in such times that we turn to God for help, in such times that we call upon his precious promises to sustain and uplift us. Among the best of them is this: “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). When we are heavily burdened we are to take one specific action: cast. We are to throw or hurl or toss our burdens upon the Lord. We are to bring them to his attention and to plead with him for his help. And so we close our eyes and pray or we lift our eyes and cry out for his help, his assistance, his deliverance.
What we want, no doubt, is for God to take them from us. We want him to lift the cross from our shoulders, to clear the sorrow from our hearts, to take the pain from our bodies, to relieve the torment from our minds, to chase the enemies from our lives. We want him to take that burden and remove it as far as east is from west, as far as heaven is from earth, as far as Everest is from the depths of the Mariana Trench. But we need to check our expectations, for this is not the promise he makes.
God’s promise is not that he will take the burden from us, but that he will sustain us as we bear it. God’s promise is not that he will free us from what ails us—not yet, at least—, but that he will enable us to carry it for as long as he deems fit. God’s promise is not that he will remove that burden but that he will support us so that we have no need to fear that we will stumble or fall. With God’s support, we have no need to fear that we will undermine the work he intends to do or to fail to remain faithful to the end.
For the fact is that it may be that God has purposes to accomplish in us that require us to bear our burden a little bit longer or that he has purposes to accomplish through us that require us to bear our burden a lot longer. Much of the work God carries out in this world is work that takes us through pain, through sorrows, through persecution, through all manner of deep and dark valleys.
It may be good and right in God’s eyes that the infertility lasts much longer than you desire, hope, and pray. It may be according to his purposes that prayers for the salvation of your spouse or child may seem to go unanswered for many more years or decades. It may be consistent with his wisdom that healing does not come, that the cloud does not lift, that relief is still many months away. It may be that you will need to bear these things until the end. But either way, you can be absolutely certain that as you bear, God will sustain. He means to not only sustain you, but to actually bless and better you through your tenacious, faithful obedience—to generate endurance through your suffering, and character through your endurance, and hope through your character, as he increasingly conforms you to the image of his Son (Romans 5:3–5).