“It was the old bait and switch.”
My husband, Rob, says this about me because when we met, he assumed I was a “low maintenance” gal. And while there are many terms I could use to tell you about myself, I would not use these two words together.
Rob thought this because we met in a rural clinic in Nicaragua where we were both serving on a short-term medical mission trip. During our time there, I wore scrubs and no makeup due to the stifling heat. We stayed in a place that I will call rustic, costing eight dollars per night, which included breakfast and dinner. However, if Rob had gotten a glimpse of my seventy-pound suitcase for that trip, which contained my own sheets, towels, shower shoes, pillow, snacks, and other essentials, he would have realized that my maintenance isn’t exactly low.
About two years after that trip, Rob and I got married. Now that Rob is my husband, he carries my overstuffed suitcase wherever we travel. He has to lug around the full weight of my baggage until we reach our destination.
Why am I telling you this? Because in my life and in yours, we all have baggage. Not just luggage but things in our life that weigh us down and cause us to feel tired, anxious, weak, or even hopeless. During a year like 2020, we have had more burdens laid on us due to things like a pandemic, homeschooling, mask wearing, a presidential election, restaurant closures, thwarted plans, quarantines, and transitioning to working from home.
Perhaps you’ve been anxious all year about the possibility of getting sick, loved ones dying, your business closing, or your marriage ending. Maybe you’ve been worried about being let go from your job or you have been lying in bed at night, wondering how you will “do it all” during this Christmas season. But just as I released my bags for Rob to carry, we can all experience freedom from the heaviness of our trials and circumstances as we cast the weight of them onto God.
First Peter 5:6–7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
The uncreated One who created us knows that in our human weakness, we were not designed to carry our burdens. As we humbly admit that we can’t manage what weighs us down by ourselves, we can release our anxieties to Him. Because God loves us, because God is concerned about us, because God takes interest in us, and because of His faithful care for us, He invites us to give Him our troubles. While the world heaps on us bad news, reasons to worry, and stories that keep us up at night, Jesus offers peace, rest, and a burden described as light (Matt. 11:30).
Does He Really Care?
A few months ago, I was tempted to question God’s care for me after I was hit by an unexpected wave of anxiety. At the time, I was homeschooling our two daughters while in the middle of the beautiful, yet beyond exhausting, season of taking care of our newborn son, Samuel. One evening, we received a call from his pediatrician that his abnormal lab results might require a liver transplant, which left us shocked and overwhelmed.
Perhaps you have recently asked God in an anxious moment, “Do You really care about me?” The answer is always yes (Isa. 49:15–16; Jer. 31:3; Heb. 13:5). I know this is true because God so loved every person in this world that He gave us the precious gift of His only Son, Jesus, which proved the depths of His love (John 3:16).
Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be uponhis shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Because of the priceless gift of Jesus, who came to earth and died in our place, we can have peace with God but can also experience His peace here on earth (John 14:27; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14). We are given the gift of peace as we release our cares to the One who cares for us. It is through prayer, with thanksgiving, that Jesus takes our heavy burdens and exchanges them for His peace (Phil 4:6–7).
Not only is the government “upon his shoulder,” but everything else we release to Jesus through prayer is also on His shoulders. We can cast our schedules, our jobs, our disappointments, our relationships, our finances, and our illnesses onto “God with us” (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). In the midst of difficulties, trouble, tribulation, and sorrow, we have Immanuel not only with us wherever we go but He makes our journeys lighter as we cast our cares upon Him.
I admit I was anxious about our Samuel. But as Rob and I prayed, cried, and lifted up our boy to Jesus, His peace guarded us from drowning in despair. I knew that the burden of any illness he may have had did not rest on my shoulders but on God’s. After many tests and appointments, the doctors reported that Samuel was a healthy little guy who did not need medication or surgery. Praise God!
Drop the Baggage
This Christmas season, let’s drop our baggage. Let’s release our cares to God so we are free to receive His peace. Since God never changes (Heb. 13:8), we don’t have to worry about “the old bait and switch” in our relationship with Him. We don’t have to be weighed down by smaller burdens like finding the right Christmas gift or the bigger ones, like the safety of our loved ones. That is because our Wonderful Counselor still works wonders today. Our Mighty God has the power to help us, no matter how great our problems. Our Everlasting Father will never for a moment leave us. And as we release our cares to the Prince of Peace, whom we celebrate during this season, He will be faithful to exchange our burdens with the gift of His peace.