We don’t get to New York City very often. We always feel a little like country mice dazzled by the city lights when we arrive. But we love every bit of the city: the soaring architecture, the grand public works, the bridges, the skyscrapers, the statuary.
A favorite sight of ours has always been the towering statue of Atlas which stands outside Rockefeller Center in mid-town Manhattan. Standing an imposing four stories high, this iron Atlas makes an unambiguous statement. The well-muscled figure, head bent and heavy laden, is carrying across his shoulders an enormous globe. He carries the whole weight of the world.
Now, we say the statue of Atlas tells an unambiguous message because we would venture to guess that most of the people who pass by recognize Atlas’ dilemma. At one time or another, most all of us have felt like Atlas, haven’t we? We, too, have struggled with tasks that seemed over-sized. We’ve balanced enormous responsibilities. We’ve struggled with problems so weighty that they’ve exhausted us and spent our last ounce of energy. We’ve felt as if everything depended upon us, though we were in serious danger of dropping the ball.
What can we do when it seems we carry the whole weight of the world and we’re starting to feel a little shaky? It’s at moments like those that the assurances that have come down to us through the ages are most important to remember. Like the millions before us that felt themselves on the verge of collapse, we can take comfort from timeless words our scriptures have preserved for us – words like these: “nothing will be impossible with God,” and “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Remembering those words is critical because it changes our focus from ourselves to God. We never face our problems alone, after all. Of course our capabilities are limited. But we trust in One whose strength and whose resources are far greater than our own, One who says to us: “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be afraid for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
Interestingly, the mighty Atlas who struggles beneath the crushing weight of the world stands across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New You City. And inside the cathedral is a small statue of the boy, Jesus, at perhaps 7 or 8 years old. This little statue stands as a challenge, or maybe a corrective, to viewing life as simply a grueling endurance test. It shows the child with one hand lifted in blessing and the other confidently and easily holding the whole world.
So, when life seems too heavy to bear, remember, you can safely take the weight of the world off your shoulders.
After all, He’s got the whole world in his hands.