“I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading me shame
I’m laying them down for the ____________________”
I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my pain
I’m laying them down for the ____________________”
Joy of the Lord
We each carry burdens, cares and pains: family responsibilities, money struggles, health worries, global fear, job stresses, marriage anxieties, and more, and somehow in the song we “lay them down for the joy of the Lord.” That sounds nice, but to me it smacks with fantasy. It sounds like, “I’m going to ignore these “tangible” things in my life so I can be happy thinking about God for a while.” That doesn’t really help, because SOMEONE has to carry these burdens! They’re important to me! If I don’t who will?
But what if we could trade our sorrows with God. Not like “I’m trading my sorrows for the joy of the Lord.” or maybe a little. I’m talking about trading sorrows the way true friends do.
Example: Person A has a relative who has passed away, and he really misses her. He pours out his heart to his friend, Person B. Person B Listens and receives the care of Person A, and Person A feels much better. Then Person A asks Person B “How are you doing?” Person B tells his Person A that his marriage is on the rocks and spends time pouring out his heart to his friend. Person A receives and empathizes with his friend. Both friends are encouraged and comforted not only that they have been heard, but that their friend the other Person counted them worthy of their trust. Is this not the essence of true friendship?
What if we could have that kind of relationship with God? A relationship where we share our cares and concerns with God, and God shares His cares and concerns with us?
Objection: Now you might say, “Whoa, hang on. God doesn’t feel cares and concerns the way I do. God is all powerful and all-knowing. He doesn’t feel worry or fear the way I do.” I understand this objection, because it seems like I am saying that our feelings of fear and worry about our cares and concerns are just like God’s feelings about His cares and concerns. It is true, God isn’t as powerless or clueless as we are, and in his perfect character does not feel fear or worry, but He does have feelings of care and concern. And believe it or not, He cares more and is more concerned about the things in your life that are alarming you than you do. Please bear with me, while I unpack this idea.
Biblical Friendship with God
First of all, it is Biblical to have a friendship with God where we share our concerns with God, and we take on God’s burdens.
1 Peter 5:7–“Cast all your cares upon God, for He cares for you.” God cares.
Also, look at the life of Moses, He joined God in His work to bring Israel into the promised land. He did this through a sharing of his burdens with God, (saying the work was too much, and God raised up 70 to help him.) and God sharing His burdens with him (Numbers 14:21 “As I live all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.”) The exchange between Moses and Yahweh on Mount Sinai is an evidence of this give and take friendship, and as a result the people of Israel were saved.
There came a point in Israel’s History where God was looking for this dynamic again in the time of the Exile in Babylon, God spoke to Ezekiel saying, ” The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy and unlawfully exploited the foreign resident. I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one. So I have poured out My indignation on them and consumed them with the fire of My fury. I have brought their actions down on their own heads.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.
Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
in John 15:13-15 Jesus says Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
Ananias who visited with Saul saw a vision of Jesus, and God spoke to him and shared a mission with him, and Ananias shared his concern with God, and God replied with further explanation. A sharing of care and concern both ways. Paul and John the author of Revelation had stories like this in their lives.
This relationship is Biblical. But what does it look like?
It does not look like simply reading your Bible. In the Bible we learn the thoughts of God, but we don’t experience the emotions of God. We can imagine them, but we don’t really experience them without something more intimate than reading the pages of the Living Word of God.
It DOES looks like prayer: Committing your cares to the carrying of an all powerful God, and then being totally freed up, waiting to receive His care upon you.
Now, for those of you who objected earlier, you might be further thinking, “Why would God do that? He doesn’t need us.” And it’s true He doesn’t need us to carry his burdens for his own sake, but he does need us to carry his cares for the world’s sake. Let me share with you two little-known principles about why this is the case with God that I hope will make sense: The Smell of God, and the Method of God.
The Smell of God
This idea comes from the verse, in 2 Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
Have you ever had a person talk about God who the words didn’t really feel right? Like there was something off in their manner, motive, or ministry that just didn’t “smell” right?
Whatever is in your heart “scents” your speech. As Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart _____________” (The mouth speaks) Your heart will always smell like what is in your heart. If it is your own cares, your words will smell like those worries and cares. But if you have given your cares to God and have received God’s cares, then your words will “smell” like Him. As I said earlier, You cannot receive God’s cares from God Himself thru the Bible. Only Prayer lets you do this. If you know your Bible from the first to the last verse, and don’t spend time sharing your heart with the Author, and letting the author share his heart with you, you will just smell like a dusty bookshelf. And if you have hearts carried by your own worries, your words will be “scented” with those worries which will overpower God’s aroma, and people won’t be able to smell God on you.
The Method of God
God is out to reconcile the World to Himself. To do that He chose a creature of Heaven and Earth to be the bridge between Him and the World: Human. And not just any human, the Human: Jesus Christ. Who is the body of Jesus Christ? The New Humanity: Believers in Jesus Christ. So God’s method is to draw the world which sins and rebels against Him back to himself, using people to represent Him to them. This is God’s Method. And if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then God seeks to reconcile the world to Himself through you. You are God’s method.
Now, if God is out to reconcile the world to Himself, and he uses his people to do it, then He needs to fill those people up with His love and truth.
To sum up, God wants you to cast your cares on him, so that He can carry the weight of your concerns and cares so you don’t need to be burdened by worry, fear, anxiety, and doubt. But God wants you then to receive His cares, His heart, and His concerns from Him so that through you, God can reconcile the world to Himself.
Aren’t God’s Burden’s too Hard to Carry?
And just like Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” By Burden, he’s saying my cares and concerns, the things I have a heart for, it is easy to carry.
Really? You’d think the opposite. People have taken up what they know are things God has said He’s concerned about, and they are so over-burdened and grumpy! Have you noticed? Someone says say, “We need to go and feed the homeless; there aren’t enough people feeding the homeless, I’m going to feed the homeless. Ugh, this feeding the homeless isn’t much fun, but it’s okay because this is what God wants, and God will help me do it.” And then they go and talk to somebody and either say “You should feed the homeless!” and try to guilt people into joining, or announce, “I feed the homeless!” for some saintly reason of “Oh people look at my example” But they are self-righteous. Do either of those things smell like God?
If this is you, and you’re wondering why you don’t have joy in it, or if you know somebody who comes across as guilting and self-righteous, the reason probably is, that you or that person haven’t REALLY given up your cares and concerns. You or they’ve just found the cares and concerns that you can carry that God has authorized.
This is one of the reasons why as sinful human beings, we have this need to worry and fret and not give up control. I think that we are afraid that if we give our cares to the Lord, then we’ll discover that He doesn’t really love us. We’re afraid that if we stop trying to do the “necessary” thing, then we won’t be able to earn the love that we are trying to deserve. This is why we get so weary and heavy laden, because as soon as we give up our concerns and cares to God, then we don’t have anything left to show how important and valuable we are. All we have left is God to show us how important and valuable we are.
Reading Matthew 6, you can hear that You are valuable and important, but you’ll never really know that until you give up all your cares and concerns to God, and wait to see how He responds. That’s the risk. Because then He will finally have a chance to tell you the truth, and He will show you His heart for you, and if you wait long enough, He will also show you His heart for the world. And with the showing of that Heart for the World, will come the sweet secret of those who know Intimacy with Him. This is also the badge that proves people are carrying God’s burdens rather than their own.
This is the gentle, patient, persistent flame that can finally breathe when the burdens of life are cleared from off the wick of our heart. This Joy is based in so many things: it’s because you know you are loved and accepted and God has just shared His eternal love and truth with you that is so good it cannot be beaten! Through this great exchange of your cares for God’s, you will be entrusted with the heart of God. That example at the beginning of two friends. That is a hint of what it is like. And through this great exchange, the World will come to experience God’s love and power through you.
Now, just a warning, because some people may not want this. Doing this will result in one of two things: bringing the world closer to salvation, or bringing yourself closer to your own crucifixion. Likely both. For Jesus it was both, so why not for us? The more God is truly known in the world, the more people will have the chance to totally accept him, or totally reject him.
Some Practical Considerations for Doing this Great Exchange.
- First of all, in American culture we are so good at self-soothing. You already can think of the things you depend on for your comfort and recuperation. Deny yourself those self-soothings you do whenever you are burdened and worried and anxious about your cares and concerns, and give them to God instead. Turn the TV off, put the snack down, put the Phone down, and go to God.
- Second, set aside some time in the day to pray and talk with God regularly. Our First ministry isn’t to our family or ourselves. It’s to the Lord. I recommend before anyone else wakes up or after everyone else is asleep.
- Third, “Go aside.” Moses saw the burning bush and turned aside to see the great sight, and when God saw Moses had turned aside, then he called out to him. There’s something about relating with God where He needs to see you. Maybe He wishes to know that you are seeking Him for His own sake, or maybe it’s just a lot easier to talk with someone when they leave the business of where they are, and stop long enough to fully receive what they say. Don’t go to God in between things. Literally stop whatever you’re doing, go somewhere private, and pour out your heart to God, then wait to hear His response.
- And Fourth. Give your burdens over to Him. There are probably countless ways to do this, and some of them are well known: say them out loud, think about them and remember a Promise from God’s word, write them down methodically, write them down crazy fast.
- For me, I have found it helpful to do it with a physical action or a visualization. A physical action is important because any doctor will tell you that worry and stress is a physical thing. If your shoulders are slumping because a heavy weight is on them, go to God, and shrug that burden off your shoulders, and pick it up and hand it to God. Where is he? right in front of you? Up above you. You can say, “God, can you please get that?” This is NOT as crazy as Harvey the Rabbit. God is really there right? Then talk to Him like He is really there!
- The other way I mentioned is Visualization. Picture your worry and then in your imagination give it over to Jesus. Let it take whatever natural shape it takes in your imagination. it can be a big glob of poop, it can be anything, and then the conscience can help your imagination rightly understand what Jesus does in response to that. These are just methods I have tried, but there are many others.
- Fifth consideration: It’s probably going to take longer than you think depending on how much time you have already spent casting your cares on God, Each one will need to be sorted and dealt with. If you feel like you’ve given all your concerns over to God, and one keeps popping up, you probably missed one. Keep going til your mind and heart are ready to stare your friend in the face with boldness because he has stayed with you the whole time you’ve unloaded on him.
- Sixth when He shares with you keep His Confidence.
The world today is a mess. And the sin of humanity is the problem. Romans 3:11–“There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks for God.” As it was in Paul’s day, so it still is today. But if the sin of humanity is the problem, the salvation of humanity is at least part of the solution. It doesn’t sound very different from Ezekiel’s day. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy and unlawfully exploited the foreign resident. I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.”
First, I address the church as a whole: without the heat of prayer, the Church will be lukewarm and ineffective. Unless you pray in this way, the world will not know Jesus through you.
Come on! Rise! Go! Find Him! Seek the Lord while he may be found!