Day 206: Lay Down Your Burdens–Literally (Isaiah 37:14-20)

Through the Bible: Isaiah 37-39, Psalm 76

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord… (Isaiah 37:14-15)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Within an hour or two of reading Isaiah 37 in my quiet time this morning, I got a call from a church member asking me to pray for his family as they navigated a heartbreaking conflict within their family.

Without thinking, I said, “Well, let’s start by praising God for what we can.”

This is what Hezekiah did when he received the letter from Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, announcing his impending invasion of Judah and his demand of unconditional surrender (see Isaiah 36). Hezekiah didn’t get there immediately, however. When he first received the taunting letter, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the temple to seek out Isaiah. Then he poured out his anxiety and fear to Isaiah:

‘This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. (Isaiah 37:3)

Isaiah’s response was simple and beautiful:

The Lord says this: Don’t be afraid.

Isaiah 37:6

No sooner had Hezekiah heard these reassuring words from Isaiah when another messenger from Sennacherib was delivered to him, doubling down on the taunts and threats and reminding Hezekiah that none of the gods of the other nations had been able to deliver them from the hand of Assyria (see Isaiah 37:8-13).

After receiving this letter, Hezekiah once again made his way to the temple. Only this time, he isn’t wearing sackcloth. He doesn’t seek out Isaiah, and he doesn’t cry his fears out to the Lord. Instead, he expresses his confidence:

16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”

Isaiah 37:16-20

Hezekiah doesn’t deny the threat was real. He knew very well that the gods of the other nations were powerless to stop Sennecherib. Indeed, Assyria took those gods and threw them into the fire.

But Hezekiah also knew that God alone was sovereign over all the kingdoms of the earth. He knew that God was still enthroned above the cherubim. And he knew that the gods of the nations were no gods at all, but were the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Of course they were destroyed! Then Hezekiah prayed that God would save His people from the hand of the enemy. Not so Judah would know Hezekiah was a great king, but that all the kingdoms of the earth would know God alone is the Lord.

So I told my friend to lay his burden down in front of the Lord, and to thank God for who He is, for what He has done, and for all that was praiseworthy even in the midst of this painful circumstance. God doesn’t want us to pretend there isn’t a crisis. All that was in the letter Hezekiah spread before the Lord.

But beloved, hear this: simply praying that God will bring you comfort in the midst of your pain is too small a request. Praying for resolution and peace for your family is appropriate and right. But to what end? That your family would be happy? Or that God would be glorified? Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with asking God to bring peace to your family. In fact, the apostle Paul promised the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds when we submit our requests to God (Phil 4:6-7).

But as you lay down your burdens, know this. From God’s perspective, your being satisfied is too easy. God being glorified is the goal.






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