You know how sometimes you hear something, and it registers somewhere on a subconscious level…then you hear it again, this time from another source, and it rings a bit louder…and then, yet again, you read or see or hear it a third time, and you figure it’s time to pay attention?
At first thought, it seems obvious what it means. From a biblical perspective, my immediate thoughts go straight to Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens…”. Michele over at My Life Under the Sun wrote an encouraging post on this very thing. Using the truth of Scripture, she reminds us of the blessings received as a result of sharing our lives–and concerns–with one another. She goes deeper to expose the purpose and intent of our own struggles in light of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. As God comforts and heals us from our own battles we are taught by example, and through experience, gain understanding, enabling us to “know” how to comfort others. Thankfully, our struggles are not random or pointless; they reveal our desperate need for God, who in turn uses them for our good and His glory, eventually sharing what we’ve learned to bring hope and healing to others.
Another post that had me thinking was a two-parter from Senselight. She initially shared her conviction of self-absorption, and the tendency many of us have to (half) listen to others without doing anything else to bear their burdens with them. Sure, saying “we’ll pray for them”, but that often being a perfunctory response rather than a real call to intercession on their behalf. As she sought the counsel of Scripture, she discovered something “new”–she looked specifically for verses that used the language of “bearing burdens”, and what she found, I think, surprised her. Using Matthew 11:28-30 as her basis, she saw that Christ alone is to bear our burdens. Our responsibility as believers in bearing with one another is to point them to Him. God alone is the one who brings freedom and grace and peace and forgiveness and healing and redemption and liberty…and perfect love.
(Read both of their original posts to have a clearer understanding of what they actually said, my brief summaries don’t do their posts justice, and I’d hate to think I in any way misrepresented what they intended to say.)
Keep in mind I’m sharing my thoughts on this because of several situations close to me, and the timeliness of reading these posts when I was already contemplating a right response to these friends who are struggling through Real. Life. Issues. Their stuff is much “bigger” than me and my limited knowledge, biblical or worldly, yet I’m in their lives, they’ve invited me “in”, and I don’t want to be passive in my response (the “yeah, I’ll pray for you” route without really, truly doing a thing, ’cause isn’t my life full enough of my own stuff….).
This post was actually begun M O N T H S ago, and although some of my friends’ circumstances are resolved, some are on-going, and for others, new struggles have begun (or maybe they’ve been in existence a while, but I just learned about them). I continue to seek the counsel of scripture and cogitate my response to beloved people who are hurting, struggling, desperate for answers, marinating in the pain of sometimes self-inflicted wounds or drowning in a sea they never saw coming. Some who have a shared faith, others who don’t, but all looking for relief. I’m not interested in co-dependency or simply “meeting” their closeted skeletons (those “bones” can be quite juicy, exactly the grist the rumor mill craves and devours); but if I’m in their lives and they’ve trusted me with their battered or broken hearts, is it possible for me to play a part in their healing? Not as “the” healer, but as a vessel that brings relief, even if only in part?
Well, this is getting l o n g and I’m just getting started, but still, it seems to be a good stopping place for now. More soon as I try to get my thoughts on “paper”.