Charles Stanley - When Our Burdens Seem Unbearable
When your heart feels heavy and your body seems to be so weary, and somehow your emotions feel so drained and you're very discouraged. In fact, you just feel sort of burdened down, where do you turn? Well, all of us have those times in our life when we feel burdened down. We all have those times in life when we feel like things are a little bit hopeless or helpless or we feel discouraged, a little disillusioned maybe. Where do you turn when you have those feelings? Do you turn to someone? Do you turn to something? Do you look for some way to escape? Where do you turn when you have those feelings?
Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message. And I want to talk about this whole idea of "When Our Burdens Seem Unbearable". When our burdens seem unbearable, because all of us either will or have or do meet those times in life when we come to that stage where we think, "Lord, we can't handle too much more". Or, "Lord, we can't handle any more". Where do you turn then? Well, I want you to turn to Matthew chapter eleven, if you will, and there are three verses of scripture here that I want us to look at because the Bible is very clear about what you and I should do when we have these burdens in our life. And so, Jesus, speaking to the people of His day, here's what He said to them.
In verse twenty-eight of chapter eleven, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light". Jesus was speaking to people who felt extremely burdened, who oftentimes were living either below the poverty stage or in poverty, many of whom were slaves. Their life was very, very difficult. It was a hard kind of life. Rome ruled, and the people to whom Jesus was speaking, most of those people were in dire straits. And so, what is He saying to them? He's giving them a word of encouragement. He wants to give them a word of help. He says, "Come to Me all ye who are heavy laden and you're borne down and you feel the weight of life itself". And He says, "I will give you rest".
Here's Jesus, the living Son of God, the sovereign God of this universe, now seated at the Father's right hand. And He says, "All power has been given to Me in heaven and earth". So we know that whatever burden you and I carry, He is able to deal with it. Because the Bible asks a couple of times: Is there anything too hard for God? How can anything be too hard for God who is sovereignly in control of every single solitary thing? Who is omniscient, knowing all things. Omnipresent, all things are in His presence. And He has the power to handle every circumstance of life. And what is He saying to us? Come to Me. Now, when He says, "Come to Me," how can I take a burden to the Lord? Not only does He say, "Come to Me all ye who are heavy laden," but, listen, the scope of it's universal. Anyone who is burdened about anything, we can come to Him, lost and saved.
Now, a person who is without Christ can come to Him, the first thing they have to deal with is their sin problem. Once you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, He's willing to deal with all the other burdens that you and I deal with in life. He says, "Come to Me". When He says, "Come to Me all ye who are laboring, heavy laden, borne down," what does He mean by come to Him? What do I do? Well, there's something very simple I do but is very practical and is workable. First of all, I tell Him what my burden is. Lord, here's how I'm hurting. Does He need information? No. He desires that you and I humble ourself before Him and tell Him, "God, here's where I'm hurting. Here's the reason I feel so discouraged. Here's the reason I feel so stuck. God, I need You". When you and I come to Him expressing our burden, sharing with Him our burden, we are humbling ourselves before Him. God always honors a humble spirit. So first of all, I'll tell Him about it.
The second thing I do is give it to Him. You say, "Now wait a minute, how am I gonna give it to Him"? Now listen carefully, when I come to Him and tell Him about it, I say to Him, "Father, Lord Jesus," however you want to address Him. "I'm turning this over to You. You said You'd bear my burdens. I'm laying this down". By laying it down, I'm acknowledging, "God, I can't handle this. I know You can handle this". And so first of all, I'm telling Him about it, and secondly, I'm entrusting it to Him. I'm trusting Him who called me to Himself and made me a promise that He not only can but He will, desires, is committed to handling my burden. So I come to Him, I tell Him about it, I lay it before Him, I trust Him to deal with it. Not only must I tell Him about my burden, not only must I trust it to Him, but my focus must move from my burden to the burden-bearer. If I just keep my focus on the burden. Well, God, here's the problem, and Lord, you know about this. If I keep telling Him this, then my focus is on that, you know what? I haven't given it to Him.
Now, watch this. The way to find out where you are is to analyze your own prayer. In other words, when you get through praying about this burden and giving it to Him, ask yourself the question: How much of my time did I spend on telling Him and describing this to Him and telling Him about my hurt and having myself a pity-party, and how much of my time did I concentrate on Him? God, I know that You're the sovereign of this universe. I know that You love me unconditionally. You have the power to deal with this. I want to thank You and praise You, Lord, that You are a burden-bearer. In other words, when I begin to focus on Him, you know what? I can leave it with Him.
As long as I'm focusing on the burden, I'm gonna pick it up and walk away with it and I'm gonna keep carrying it, and that's the reason some people carry the same burden for year after year after year after year. They've never learned to lay it down. You lay it down, listen, you lay it down as a decision on your part. You lay it down as an act of faith on your part. And you lay it down, listen, remove, changing your focus from the burden to the burden-bearer. So first of all, we have this wonderful invitation. And He says, "Secondly, I want you to do this". He says, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls". He says, "Take My yoke upon you". So first of all, He gives an invitation. He says, "Come, I want to take care of it". Secondly, He says, "Now, here's what you must do. I want you to take My yoke upon you".
Now, why did He say, "My yoke"? Because He was distinguishing, now watch this carefully, He was distinguishing His yoke from the yoke of the Pharisees. He was referring to the yoke of the Pharisees which was, and you remember what a yoke is. A yoke is sort of a wooden frame that a person could place upon their shoulders and sort of across their neck. And what that does, it makes it possible for them to just sort of shift the weight so that they have an equal amount on both sides. And then of course there's that double yoke that they put the oxen in so that the oxen kept together and they were sort of united in their walk and in their sense of direction. So, Jesus said, "I want you to exchange yokes". And what He was referring to is that the Pharisees had people under such regulations and rules, and their idea was they were preaching absolute strict obedience to the whole law if someone was gonna be saved, if God was going to accept them. Well, they couldn't even live up to that themselves.
And so people were horribly discouraged, trying to live up, couldn't walk but so far on the Sabbath, and couldn't do this and couldn't do that and couldn't do the other. And so all these rules and regulations. He says, listen, He said, "Take My yoke upon you. Learn of Me". He says, "My yoke is easy". Now, what was He saying? Simply this. He said, "You come to Me and surrender yourself to Me". Now, watch what He said now. He said, "Come to Me all ye labor, who are laboring and heavy laden and I'll give you rest. Take My yoke upon you". He said, "Learn of Me". Now, He says, "My yoke is easy". How was a person saved? A person is not saved by living up to strict regulations and rules, meriting salvation. A person is saved by receiving the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, forgiveness of their sin. It is something that you and I receive by faith. It isn't something we do and live up to. Then we live a godly life, we want to walk in obedience to God, not because we're afraid of going to Hell.
We walk in obedience to God out of gratitude and thanksgiving and praise to Him for what He's done for us. And so He's simply saying this. He said, "Look, their yoke is burdensome. My yoke is light. My yoke is easy". He didn't say, "I'm getting rid of the yokes". He didn't say, "Throw away your yoke". He says, "I want you to exchange that yoke that's not gonna get you anywhere but hurt and pain and suffering, for My yoke. My yoke is easy". Salvation did not come easy. Salvation is by the grace of God through the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And so, when we come to the Lord Jesus Christ, we come to Him confessing our sins, receiving Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, taking, listen, taking upon ourselves His yoke. Now, what is His yoke? His yoke is simply this: that we submit ourselves to Him as our master and our Lord, and we walk in obedience to Him.
Listen, listen, obedience that is enabled by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We don't walk in obedience to God so we'll get saved. We walk in obedience to God because He has saved us. We, listen, we walk in the victory, we walk in the joy, we walk in the gratitude, we walk in the peace, we walk in the contentment that He's given us because of what He's done for us, not what we do for ourselves. He says, now, "Take My yoke upon you. Learn," He says, "Learn from Me".
Now, why did He say, "Learn from Me"? He's simply saying, "Be My disciple. Learn My ways. Learn how I operate. And here's what you'll learn. You learn that I love you unconditionally. You'll learn that whatever you face, I'm gonna be there. You'll learn that whatever burden you bear, I'm gonna be there to lift it off your shoulders. You're going to learn that I'm always there, reliably there, never leave you, never forsake you, that I'll always be adequate for you. I'll meet every single need of your life". So, He says, "Take My yoke upon you. Submit to My will and to My way. Learn from Me. Be one of My disciples". And He says, "My yoke is easy. My burden is light".
And so what happens? He teaches us how to live in them without being borne down by them. We don't feel weighted down, we don't feel discouraged, we don't feel disillusioned, we don't feel like we're gonna give up, we don't feel like we're walking on the edge of life. Somehow we're able to walk in the midst of those burdens with a sense of confidence and victory and assurance that God is in control and He will work out the circumstances in His own time, in His own perfect way. "Come unto Me," He says, "all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". Now, look at the assurance He gives us here, which is a beautiful way for Him to say this. Listen to what He says. He says, "So, here's the invitation. Come on. Here's the command. Take My yoke; it's easy, it's light. I may remove the burden totally. If I don't remove the burden, I get up under it with you and you'll never feel it".
Thirdly, He says, "Here's the assurance. Doesn't make any difference. Come on, not gonna throw you aside". And He says, "Here's My promise". Look at this, twice. "I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I'm gentle and humble in heart. You shall find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy, My load is light". He says, "You're gonna find rest". Now, what does that mean? Simply this: that when I give it to Him and I trust Him with it and I get my focus on Him, you know what's gonna happen? I'm gonna be able to rest in my soul without having turmoil. I'm gonna be able to rest in my spirit without fear. I'm gonna be able to rest in my understanding of my circumstances. That even though they may not change, there's gonna be an awesome sense of peace until He does see fit to change them. Is it not true that you and I become restless when our focus gets on the burden rather than on the burden-bearer?
When you and I begin to think about all the reasons why it's not being taken care of, why it's not changing, is that not the reason we become frustrated and anxious and worried and fretful, and sometimes even maybe angry? He says, "Come on. Take My yoke. Look what I'm like". And He says, "I'll give you rest for your soul". What's His promise? His promise is this: you and I, though, listen, you and I, though we may have to face very heavy burdens in life, we don't have to give up. We don't have to try some foolish escape. We don't have to become disillusioned. We don't have to surrender to them. We, listen, we don't have to check out of life. We have a loving heavenly Father who fully understands enough that He says, listen, "I will lead you, I will guide you, I will teach you in the way you should go. Cast all your cares upon Me. I will sustain you. I'm the burden-bearer. Let Me have your burden and you won't have to bear it".
This is the reason that some people can live in such dire straits, difficult circumstances, and you'll meet them, they have a smile upon their face, joy upon their heart, a contentment in their soul. I'm sure that no one is always that way. Nobody is always that way. Because all of us have our ups and downs, all of us have our moments of weakness. But the, listen, the key is this: not that you never have a moment of weakness, that you want to pick up that burden again, but the key is that you know what to do with it and how to lay it right back down. Lord, You said I could come to You. I'm coming to You. God, I picked it up. Sorry I picked it up. Forgive me for my weakness. I'm giving it back to You. I'm trusting You with it. I want to thank You for getting my focus back on You where it belongs and move on in life.
So, when somebody says, "Well, I have burdens. What do I do with them"? First thing you do is you bring them to Christ. Have an invitation, have a command, have a wonderful assurance and a beautiful promise. Now, there's something else we can do, and that is we're to share them with someone else. You say, "Well now, wait a minute, haven't you always been talking about God being sufficient"? Absolutely. "God being adequate"? Yes, He is. "When you have Him, you have everything"? Right. But remember this, you, listen, are you listening? Say amen. You must always leave it to God to do things His way.
Now, listen to what He says. Galatians chapter six, "Brethren, even if a man," or a woman, "is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted". Then he says, "Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ". Bear one another's burdens. Well, how is somebody else gonna bear my burden? Well, God may lay upon someone's heart to pray for me. But if I, listen, if someone else is to bear my, really bear my burden, they need to know what I'm really burdened about. Now, all of us have had people call us or whatever it might be and say, "I'm praying for you. Is something going on"? But He says we're to bear one another's burdens. That means that I have the right to share my burden with someone else. If the Son of God felt the need to share His heart when He was burdened, so do you and I have the right to share our heart with somebody else.
Now, you may be one of those persons who's just too prideful to do it. Then my friend, remember two things: you're gonna miss a blessing and you're gonna cause somebody else to miss a blessing. Because you see, if you go to a person and share with them your heart, how you're hurting, the deep burden that you're feeling in your life, something that you're going through, remember this: all you have done is you've practiced what Jesus practiced. At a moment in His life when He said, "I need my friends to be close. I need to tell you, this is getting pretty close to all I can handle".
You may say, "But I'm so afraid". You know what? You don't have to be afraid. "But what will they think"? It doesn't make any difference what they think. What makes a difference is what God thinks. And what did we hear? He said, "I'm gonna be kind to you. I'm gonna love you unconditionally. I'mma take you just the way you are. I'm gonna understand you. You can't tell me anything that's gonna cause Me to be disappointed". I think I have a couple of friends like that. I hope you do. You see, because God chooses to use human beings oftentimes to do for us what He knows we need. I don't know what you're facing. I don't know where you are in life, but this much I know, I know there's a Jesus. I know there's a God, His name is Jehovah. Jesus is His Son.
The Holy Spirit is the one who works in our spirit, in our life in this life. No matter what you're facing, no matter how long you've faced it, no matter how heavy, how weighty, how awful you feel it is, He is sufficient and adequate to enable you, to sustain you, He says, to strengthen you. He may totally remove the burden that you find yourself in. And more than likely, He will. But once in a while, there are those burdens He allows for a season of time, a longer season of time than you and I would like. But He allows them for a purpose. When His purpose is finished, burden's gone. But most of them, He's willing to take now if we come to Him, lay them before Him, tell Him about them, trust them with Him, get our focus on Him. And you know what? He's more than happy, He delights, He says He bears our burdens daily. If you'll let Him, He'll take yours.
If you've never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, I know what you're carrying. You're carrying guilt. You're carrying the weight of sin. And the only person who can handle that is the Lord Jesus Christ. And I want to encourage you to ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to tell Him that you're surrendering your life to Him, that you want life at its best, and He's the only one who can offer that. And if you'll confess your sins to Him and tell Him that you're receiving Him as your personal Savior, based on what He did at Calvary, in that moment your sins are forgiven.
Listen, you're not paroled, you're pardoned, eternally free. The Spirit of God will seal you as a child of God in that moment. And from that moment on, you have someone to get up under those burdens, walk with you, take the weight off of you and enable you to walk in a peace and tranquility that you'll never know till you know Christ as your Savior and Lord. It may be that you are a believer and you're in a dire circumstance and you'd like to get out, and you're crying out to God, and you've just begun to doubt God and almost hate God for where you are. Why don't you just try this? Just say, "Lord, I've heard something different today. I haven't done it very well". That's okay, He understands. And just tell Him that today you're laying it down. He knows you may have to pick it up tomorrow. Tell Him you're laying it down. It's the only real, genuine freedom, and that's through Christ.