I have been reminded lately of how fortunate we truly are to have our Christian and spiritual families, how very blessed we are to have someone around us that genuinely care. We are in a fickle world where people are so easily swayed and are so easily drawn to being sinful. People will always fail you, but we as Christians must be reminded that we are to be different from that. We have Jesus as our perfect and ultimate example. We have a cultural norm where people are so self-absorbed and self-centered that they tend to forget the importance of supporting one another. There is also the trap of sin sneaking around like poison ivy on the ground, waiting to grasp us at any moment. The devil lurking in dark corners as to pounce on us…
John MacArthur says: “This is precisely why the church is so important. It is our duty as believers to help bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). When someone staggers, we help steady the load. If he is straining, we help bear the burden. And if he stumbles, we lift him up. Helping fellow believers carry the weight of their worldly troubles is one of the chief practical duties that ought to consume every Christian.”
Bearing one another’s burdens can come in many different ‘shapes’ and ‘sizes’. The scenarios and circumstances may differ greatly. Sometimes it is not the obvious things you do that have the most impact, but rather the silent things you do. The times you just give a hug, or just send a scripture of encouragement. The times you see someone is downcast and just show a gesture of care. Those things count as well and you should not see them as lesser ways of bearing one another’s burdens.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2 NKJV)
We are asked to come alongside one another in life. We are called to be brothers and sisters in the family of Christ. This means in everyday things. It means being involved in one another’s lives. It means being the one to sit next to your ‘sister’ and just let her cry because she has been suffering a lot of pain. It means having compassion for the friend who is going through something you don’t necessarily understand. Being the Lord’s hands and feet and taking care of those suffering both physically, as well as emotionally, in your spiritual family.
Getting to the practical part, I can share a few things:
- We had family friends lose their son in an accident a few years ago. We had no words; we had no ease for the bleeding holes in their hearts. But we had tears to cry with them. We had time to daily check in on them and just sit and pray with and for them.
- Another example is of friends we have in the youth group whose mom recently had a baby, but the baby came earlier than the due date and needed to be in NICU for a while. The thing that they appreciated the most was the prayers and scriptures sent daily, as well as the meals their church family made and delivered to them. Be the hands and feet as the Lord guides!
If you feel like listening won’t help, you’re wrong. It helps. If you feel like praying isn’t going to change the situation, you’re wrong. It truly does change things. If we keep the Lord as our central point and source of strength, we can easily carry burdens that would, under normal circumstances, be too heavy for our shoulders to lift.
(Getting a little more personal – however, I think this is very applicable to many teens in this day and age.)
- I have been through addiction traps with several friends. When they admit to being trapped in some kind of sin and confess that they have an issue. During those times, the burden is lightened for the moment as the bondage of addiction can be loosened, but the fight only starts then. The bearing comes in several days later or several months afterward when the friend might’ve fallen again. Then the burden is heavy as you commit their failure and suffering to the Lord with meekness with them. Pleading for His protection on that freedom to be gained again. This is a long road and one we cannot walk alone.
“But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:30 NKJV)
- Bearing one another’s burdens is supporting that one girl who keeps making the wrong decision even after you have counseled her and given her God’s opinion on the matter through scripture. However, she chooses the wrong thing again. The consequences are heavier than she bargained for, but now you are there to comfort and to speak God’s truth into the matter yet again. Urge her to turn back to Him and accept His forgiveness, as she is allowed a second chance. Be patient like Jesus is and remind her yet again that He is the God of second chances.
- It could also mean reaching out to that friend who strayed from the Lord, who is lost and stumbling, ever closer to hell itself. Here is the massive, massive burden of knowing their soul is currently lost. It means breaking down at 2 am as you get a call from a drunken friend who almost caused an accident as you plead with the Lord for the salvation of his soul. You scream out for a wake-up call to slap your friend silly so that they will realize they are trifling with the wrong things. This burden is very heavy and it means endless intercession; and it requires you to walk close with the Lord and ask what and how to pray, as well as what to say to that person who is breaking your heart by being so stubborn.
Bearing one another’s burdens is a ministry as well as a battle because Satan won’t delay in striking both you and the sufferer on the shins as to cause you to stumble. But if the Lord is the commander of the battle, you are on the winning side.
I cannot emphasise this more, bearing one another’s burdens is not you being a helper or the shelter or comfort. It is you directing the person to the Lord’s feet. It is pointing to Him as the ultimate burden bearer. Never ever forget that.
So, next time you listen to a friend’s terrible day, bring the Lord into the conversation. Pray for that friend. Next time you feel like you don’t know what to do to help a suffering member of your youth group, give them a hug or send that scripture that you know will minister to their heart. Whatever circumstance you are faced with, pray for discernment and the Lord’s wisdom about how you should handle it and always, always bear the burden by pointing to Him!