On a recent morning I woke up eager to get to the track at the center of our town, to exercise and to pray. Since the previous night, I had been anxious and wanted to bring my concerns to my heavenly Father. I leapt out of bed, put on my exercise gear, filled a water bottle, gulped down a mug of tea, and munched on a piece of toast as I tied the laces of my sneakers. Just before I walked out the door, I paused and decided to check my e-mail. One message instantly caught my eye. It was from my sister-in-law in England. She had sent it at the start of her day, which was the middle of my night. Waiting in my inbox that morning was her e-mail, asking me to pray for her, and sharing some troubling circumstances. At once, the priorities for my morning’s prayer were changed. No longer would I dedicate thirty minutes to my own anxieties, but I would pray for my sister-in-law and her difficulties.
That brings me to this month’s petit four. It is a petit four that focuses on others. It says: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
In scripture we find that Jesus Christ carries our burdens, and in doing so provides relief from them. The ultimate example of Christ’s burden-bearing was when he took our sin upon himself so that we could be released from its enslavement and made right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In addition to our wrongdoing, Jesus also carries our daily burdens, offering relief from our worries and struggles (Psalm 68:19, Romans 8:34). All of this is done because of God’s love for us (1 John 4:9-10).
When we help another person who is burdened, we model the burden-carrying of Christ. We fulfill the law of Christ, which is summarizedas: love your neighbor as you love yourself (Galatians 5:14).
Maybe when you have asked others to share a burden, you have found their response to be hurtful, humiliating, or judgmental. Our petit four comes with a caution. Galatians 6:3 says that we are not to think of ourselves as better than others. Instead, our aim should always be to encourage the other person (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are to be gentle, kind, humble, compassionate, and patient in our help, just as Christ has been with us (Colossians 3:12-13). Just as we turn to Christ and receive from him help that is rich in love, we are to respond in the same way to a family member, friend, or neighbor who turns to us for support.
Use this exercise to help you pray for others who are carrying heavy burdens.
Click here to read an article called Hope for the Wounded written by Dr. Karen Mason from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary on how to respond to those who are suffering and burdened.