Let him be steadfast and without a shadow of weakness; let him be like an anvil in his support of every profitable thing. Let him be the servant of everyone, and let him take the responsibility of everyone’s sins upon himself.
- The Rule of Ailbe, Irish, 7th century
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
- Galatians 6.2, 3
The idea of being an anvil, to be pounded on by the frustrations, folly, fears, or fury of others, may not be your preferred metaphor for the life of faith. Much better to unload our burdens on others, to gain their understanding, sympathy, and comfort. Someone to bear our burdens for us – that’s what we need.
And we do need that, certainly we do. Jesus is our Burden-Bearer, our Anvil. He invites our burdens, calls us to enter the yoke with Him, so that He may absorb our blows and plow with us our assigned course and field. We pound upon Him in prayer, hammering away on the iron strength of His indestructible life.
But we do not come to the Anvil of Christ merely to vent our frustrations, blow by blow. Rather, we come to Him, Who absorbs the blows of our complaints, fears, doubts, frustrations, anger, sin, and strife, so that we might be shaped on Him into useful instruments for God’s glory. God has pounded the hammer of our sins on Him; the scars of our reproach are embedded in His iron flesh, and now we are being made new in Him.
God is the Hammer Who, as we are heated in the forge of His Word and Spirit, shapes us on the Anvil of Christ to bring out the beauty He has invested in us, according to His purposes. In this life, we are subjected to many blows – temptations, trials, disappointments, setbacks, fears, failures, losses, and defeats. These are inescapable, and they can break us if we remain hard, cold, and unwilling to bend. We must be melted in the fire of these tribulations if we would be fit servants for the Kingdom of God, hammered and molded according to His strength and will.
But in the Spirit and Word of God our hearts are warmed, our souls made malleable, and we, like John Donne, welcome being hammered against the anvil of Christ, so that we may be made new and shaped through trials into His glorious image:
Batter my heart, three person’d God; for you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee, and bend
Your force to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
The thing, though, about being pounded against the Anvil of Christ, is that we become shaped into His image. The Spirit and Word soften and prepare us so that the Father can make us new, bending us by blows to conform us to the shape and likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Which means that we, too, become anvils, made strong to bear the burdens of others, strong with the iron of Christ to absorb the hurts, defects, and malice of others, that they, too, might know the molding power of God’s love.
We are called to be anvils for one another, against and upon which God our Father shapes for His glory those whose burdens we daily bear. We fulfill the Law of Christ – the Law of love – as we offer ourselves in such service, resting on the Anvil of Christ as God brings the burdens of others, as blows of transforming love, to shape both us and them into His image.
We are unfinished chunks of molten iron, awaiting the molding and beautifying blows of His loving hand, which may come to us in the form of the burdens of others.
Today, rest on the Anvil of Christ, to be shaped into His image, and offer yourself to bear the blows and burdens God our Father will bring your way through others. If you have been in the forge of His Word and Spirit, He will shape you by these blows into the glorious image of His Son.
1. How do you sense the Lord is trying to hammer your soul into His likeness?
2. For whom will you be an anvil of Christ today?
Psalm 69.5-7 (Greensleeves: What Child Is This?)
O God, our folly all You know, our wrongs from You are not hidden;
Let those who in Your mercy go not by our shame be smitten.
“Let none dishonored be because, O Lord, because of Me!
You make Me dishonor see; on Me reproach is written.”
Lord, bear my burdens, and enable me to bear the burdens of others, so that I…
Praise the Lord with us
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Ó Maidín, p. 19.