I don’t know about you, but I can see them. You know, people that are just weighed down. Weighed down with the burdens of life. Sometimes you can see if manifested in anger and bitterness, but sometimes you can almost literally see the physical weight upon them, scrunching them down almost visibly. I have to admit, I have differing degrees of sympathy for them depending on how their weight is displayed, but that’s more my issue than theirs.
What are those things that weigh us down? I think we all probably could articulate almost innumerable factors. Personally, if I think of the burdens of life that have suppressed my joy over the years, and couple it with what I observe in the people in my life, I could go on and on about them. But they consist, in part, of relationship weights, health weights, job weights, emotional health weights, and on and on and on. No wonder we can be buried under them. As hard as it is to be weighed down, it’s equally hard to see someone else who is. Especially because we know they don’t need to be … at least I know that now as I’ve walked with Jesus for nearly 20 years.
A 1968 song written by Robbie Robertson of The Band said it well … “Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free; take a load off Fanny, and (and) (and) you can put the load right on me.”
I’m obviously not suggesting that Robbie, Levon, Garth, Rick, and Richard were trying to convey Biblical truth in the song “The Weight,” but I do think the applicability is useful as we view a couple passages that moved me the past couple weeks as I read through Psalms 112 – 123 and Proverbs 19 and 20. The specific verses for our application are in Psalms 112 (all of it as a matter of fact) …
Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.
If you’ve ever done heavy weightlifting or watched competitive weightlifting, you know how it looks when those incredible athletes load up hundreds of pounds on a bar and try to lift it in a variety of techniques. Perhaps the one that always blows me away and leaves me awestruck is squats. Probably because of the sheer amount of weight these folks can stack on a bar, rest on their shoulders and bear it crouching all the way down and all the way back up. The thing is, sometimes the weight is too much to complete the whole “back up” part. You’d be amazed how difficult it is to muster the strength to get up when you have a bunch of weight on your shoulders.
Because it’s so difficult, because the weight can be unbearable and unmanageable, there are always spotters nearby. Spotters are people who stand by, prepared to take the load from the lifter. Because they have a greater ability and power (there are typically at least two of them), they can step in and help with the load when needed, and at times can take the load completely away from the lifter.
I remember lifting in high school and college, always trying to lift more and more weight. If I was doing the bench press, the spotter would stand behind the bench and as I was trying to lift the weight and started to fail, the spotter would place their hands under the bar to help. At times they would simply place their hands there and not even help actually lift anything. Just seeing their hands under the bar would somehow help me to think that they were helping bear the weight and somehow I’d be able to accomplish more. Sometimes they’d actually have to exert themselves. Either way, the bottom line is I was unable in actuality to lift the weight. The weight was too much for me to bear. I had to accept the help, or in extreme circumstances, I’d just need to drop the weight, but only when there was something or someone there to safely catch it.
The Psalms 112 passage is similar. On first glance, it might seem to be saying that if we’re right with God, things are always going to be okay. Sorry to say, but this is not Biblical. Jesus says, in John 16:33b, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” In my view, what the psalmist is saying is that in life we’re not going to be able to lift the weight, but that He’s there to spot us. The psalmist is saying … life’s going to be tough, “unliftable” at times, but with God spotting us, things will feel liftable. They’ll seem easier, doable, achievable, tolerable. Just like in my weightlifting endeavors, when I was unable to lift the weight, with my spotter there I was “able” to do it. And when there were times that I was doing squats, I had the ability to just let go of the bar, to dump the weight, and the spotter would be there to take it from me and put it back on the rack.
No matter what we might think, very often in life we can’t lift the weight. It’s beyond our max much of the time. We can try, and try, and try, and try, and try. But it won’t change our ability to lift it. Sicknesses come and stay. Financial strife is real and sometimes doesn’t get better. Some relationships are broken and don’t get repaired. I’m not trying to be bleak and pessimistic … precisely the opposite!
The TRUTH is, we have a spotter with us all the time. Whether we realize He’s there, He’s there. Whether we acknowledge His presence or not, it doesn’t matter. He’s there. His hands are always under the bar, so we can rely on that fact to give us the extra boost of confidence we need to power through it. Sometimes, we’ll need more than just the confidence boost, and we’ll need to rely on His actual lifting of the bar. Sometimes, we’ll need to just dump the weight outright. Just let it go entirely, knowing fully that He’s not only there, but completely able to take the weight from us. Jesus, our spotter (and SO much more) is saying, “take a load off … it’s free … take a load off … and you can put the load right on Me.”
Soli Deo gloria!