Most of you reading will be familiar with the Old Testament story of David. Before he became king of Israel he was hunted by his enemies. David wrote many Psalms concerning this dark period of his life. To add to the turmoil of keeping away from those who wanted to kill him, we read in Psalm 55 that he had been betrayed by a trusted friend. In this Psalm David pours out the anguish of his heart. In his agonizing situation he writes something most interesting; rather peculiar, in verse 22, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” You may well be thinking, what’s so interesting or peculiar about that? We know of a certainty that God helps us in our times of need.
The peculiarity comes when looking at the original Hebrew text. The word “burdens” is the Hebrew word jehobecha which means “gift or portion.” Now do you see why this is rather peculiar at first glance? We see here that the very burden we are to give to the Lord, actually came from Him in the first place — as a gift!
This makes me think of military boot camp. My father spent 22 years in the United States Air Force before going to seminary and serving God as both pastor and missionary for over 40 years. My father said boot camp was no picnic. The drill sergeant, who was training the men to succeed, was the very one who put obstacles in their path. The assault courses were just that — an assault on the body and mind. At first glance it seemed insurmountable. The men were often angry at the drill sergeant, but they pressed on in the challenges given to them.
By the end of boot camp, these same men were strong mentally and physically. They could act independently or as a team reaching out to each other. By the time graduation came these men could actually thank the drill sergeant for the gift of the assault course. Without it, they would never have grown so robust and courageous. They would have doubted their ability to stand strong in situations the future held for them.
When we understand this, can’t we also say with David, to our loving Heavenly Father, “I give you my gifts of burden and hard times to mold me in strength and character, and I thank you, knowing I have the strength I need, because of You, to see me through the darkest of days.”