Our Three Burdens

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”—Matthew 6:27 We carry three heavy burdens in life: the past, the present, and the future.

The past can hold a tremendous load of regrets, guilt, unconfessed sin, bad memories, and neglected duties. The past can plague our present.

People spend years tormented by an abusive or painful past, unless they begin to believe, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

That is freedom! When we grasp that God can bring us new life, then we can also put away what haunts us and hurts us from the past.

Oswald Chambers writes, “Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us . . . but God can transform this destructive anxiety into constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the bosom of Christ.”

The present, however, never sleeps or allows us to rest when it is filled to overflowing with nagging doubts and worrisome details. The choices we make, the trials we endure, the obstacles to meeting deadlines, finishing tasks, taking care of families, traffic jams, health worries, financial worries — all of it can give us headaches, ulcers, and heartaches.

What we need is to sit down at Jesus’ feet, take in His presence, listen to His Word, and allow peace to be restored in our hearts (like the story of Mary and Martha in a recent devotion). 

Quoting Oswald Chambers again: “Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing, and receiving peace from Him? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him.”

“Worry it out.” That’s how many of us approach our futures, as if worry can affect the outcome.

“The mind that is anxious about the future is miserable," wrote philosopher Seneca.

And what a tortuous misery it is to worry about what hasn’t yet happened!

The Scriptures teach so many wonderful encouragements and exhortations about the living with our past, present, and future, especially the words of Jesus. I’d like to leave you with a few, from Matthew chapter six:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” “So do not worry . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as well.” “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”