READ: Psalm 55, Lamentations 4-5, Matthew 27, Romans 6
God’s intention for us is not mere survival–He wants us to thrive. As we draw ever closer to the return of King Jesus, thriving will become more and more of a challenge. War, famine, sickness, trouble, and evil all are going to increase. It is the height of folly (and requires a determined ignorance of history) to think that things are going to improve until Jesus comes. Redemption history is as bright as natural and human history is doomed. As pressure increases and duress becomes normal, the beautiful provision of God will sustain us joyfully, until that glorious day when Jesus returns.
Sustained By Casting Burdens. Psalm 55:22 instructs us to “cast [our] burdens on the Lord, and He shall sustain [us].” In the Arab world it is common to see colleagues who kindly but wrongly carry the burden of missions on their shoulders. There are weights we were not built to shoulder. The agony, pain, loss, lostness, and depravity we encounter is too heavy for us to bear. It is wise, not irresponsible, to cast the burden of the day onto Jesus. He promises to sustain us if we promise to cast accumulated heaviness onto Him. He is well able to carry the weight of the world.
Sustained By Praise. Jack Hayford’s beautiful hymn “Exalt His Name Together” includes this encouragement: Fall not beneath your burden, though tears your pathway dim, but PRAISE the name of Jesus and be sustained in Him. If casting burdens on Jesus is a defensive action that sustains us, praise takes us on offense. We attack the spirit of heaviness and oppression by praising the Lord. It is crucial, it is critical, and it is imperative in times and places of darkness to open our mouths and praise the Lord. What we feel like doesn’t matter, for it is not about our changing circumstances but about an all glorious God. Praise sustains us, for it reminds us and the circling demons of hell that God rules and wins over men.
Sustained By the Word. When we don’t know what to pray, we pick up the Bible and pray the Scriptures. When we don’t know how to praise, we repeat back to God what He has said of Himself in His Word. When words fail us in counsel or witness, we quote the Scripture. Every promise in the Book is mine. Every chapter every verse every line. Oh, the blessings of His love divine, Every promise in the Book is mine.
Sustained By Our Death. It sounds counterintuitive, but we “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) only after being “buried with Christ in baptism.” It is the crucifixion of the old man (v. 6) that frees us from sin. It is death to sin that makes us alive to God (v. 11). We are sustained by giving in to Jesus; it is by giving up that we hold out. Jesus sustains me; I don’t hold myself up by sheer will. It is sheer grace.