It was one of those weeks. Weighed down with worry, I was so tired and discouraged I could hardly move. It was all I could do to drag myself from one day to the next. Finally I decided to list all my concerns on paper. I hoped if I wrote them down, perhaps I could put them down.
I almost ran out of paper.
My “list of burdens” covered everything from the significant to the superficial. I worried about my friend battling cancer; I fretted over bad hair days. And in between was everything else: health, family, money, schedules.
My heavy load lightened the minute I put down the pen.
But soon enough, that list just grew right back. Theme with variations. “Should I call the doctor about Elizabeth’s swollen eyelid? Is Katherine enjoying her history trip? How many more miles can I expect from my ten-year-old car?” And the annual summer-is-almost-upon-us question: “What will I do with my kids for three months?”
Every day brought fresh troubles of its own; instinctively I shouldered each new burden. Before long I was right back where I started—tired, discouraged and hardly able to move.
If I really want to get rid of my burdens, I can’t just list them.
I must cast them.
And that takes a lot more effort than just a pen-and-paper exercise.
The psalmist instructs us to “cast [our] burdens on the Lord” (Psalm 55:22), in much the same way fishermen cast their nets into the water (Matthew 4:18). The Old Testament word comes from the Hebrew shalak, which means “to throw out, hurl or fling.” Matthew uses a similar term when describing the actions of fishermen and future disciples Simon and Andrew: the Greek word ballō, meaning “to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls.”
Picture these fishermen throwing their nets into the water, all day, every day. The nets would have been water-soaked and heavy. Sometimes they came back empty. It must have been tiring, even discouraging. But still they “threw without care.” Without worry.
These guys are my heroes.
After all, fishermen trusted their livelihood to something with no guarantees other than a lot of hard work. It took tremendous strength and faith to keep going. Perseverance through uncertainty is an important trait for fishermen.
It is also essential for followers of Christ.
These days, it seems our nets are never empty. Every day they fill up with more questions, challenges, hurts and disappointments. The weight can wear us out. They become so big and bulky we don’t have the energy to lift them, much less fling them.
But disciples of Christ can be heroes, too.
We can take that last ounce of strength and faith and cast our burdens, trusting that God will take care of them. As Matthew Henry explains, “to cast our burden upon God is to stay ourselves on his providence and promise, and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good. If we do so . . . he will sustain us, both support and supply us, will himself carry us in the arms of his power.”[i]
I don’t want to document my worries, but destroy them. Instead of filing them my way, I’ll fling them God’s way. I, too, will “throw without care,” assured I will draw back his promises and power.
I’m ready for a netful of blessings. How about you?
Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you. Psalm 55:22 (Amplified Bible)
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified Bible, emphasis added mine)
[i] Henry, Matthew, Commentary on Psalms 55. Blue Letter Bible, 2009.