Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
One of the most relieving things a sinner like me can read is that the Lord sustains. I mull over this verse again and again and each time it says the same thing: it is the Lord who sustains, not you. It takes some humility to really put into practice that saying. For some of us that can be hard! We all know that we’ve got problems and baggage that we can’t handle on our own, but that is the beauty of the Gospel. David, the poet of this psalm, is singing of the Lord’s free gift of salvation.
There are several points being made in this single verse:
First, we have a burden that needs lifted.
Second, we cannot sustain ourselves or rid ourselves of the burden.
Third, when God sustains us he does so by removing all burdens and replacing them with his righteousness (his power) onto us.
Fourth, if God is sustaining us, if we are in union with him, then there is absolutely nothing that can contend with his security.
John Newton, the man who wrote the lyrics to ‘Amazing Grace,’ wrote a multitude of letters. In one particular letter he assured that we are in “habitual communion with him,” that is, with Christ. Though perception of our communion may differ and vary among different people and at different points in our Christian walk, “the communion itself, upon which the life and safety of our souls depend, is never totally obstructed; nor can it be, unless God should be unmindful of his covenant, and forsake the work of his own hands.” What Newton is saying is that God made with us a New Covenant that is forged in Christ, he is so righteous and loyal that if he gives salvation to you, then no work of Satan or sin could keep him from you! That’s the same Gospel message in Romans 8:38-39.
Newton observes that if we were wholly freed of all the evil in and around us, as we will when we enter glory, “we would be always lively, sensible, and fervent” knowing finally our ACTUAL communion with God. We have an amazing relationship that is our present reality. But our present is also home to sin and Satan. Even so, Paul writes, take heart, we are in communion with almighty God and we can set our eyes on his throne and eagerly await the fullness of his glory (Col 3:1-4).
Our God does not think twice about us…because he is always mindful of us (Psalm 8:3-4). There is no burden too big for him to take and no part of us that is so missing or inadequate that he cannot sustain our dependence upon him! God will not permit any struggle to rob us of the riches of his grace and mercy. “In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world,” our Christ says to us (John 16:33). If our God says that he is with us; he is. Notice that he doesn’t specify the burden nor does he regulate his sustaining, both are without limit. That fits into what we know of a limitless God, doesn’t it? We must take into account as well that he is the one who makes us righteous. Once you are in Christ, you are secure.
If there is burden, if there is strife, if there is anxiety, we rest assured of our Lord’s mighty fortress, we are not shaken when we rest in him. We often must remind ourselves “I don’t need to measure my worth, for my worth is in Christ.” This week, pray that you see more clearly the sustaining work of Christ, no matter if it is humbling, that’s a good thing! Give praise to God for his ability to carry not just your burden, but those in your congregation. Perhaps you may even pray through the verses of ‘Amazing Grace’ as a way to meditate on the beauty of the Gospel.
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
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John Newton, Select Letters (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1960, 2015), 25.