Burdens are too much to bear alone

Sometimes the burdens in life are just too much, you know what I mean? Life can be exhausting, discouraging, and just plain awful at times. And it seems to love getting your hopes up only to stand back and watch your plans turn to dust. How do you cope when life throws you curve balls like that?

Well, the Bible has a lot of answers for how to survive (and even thrive) in the midst of life’s dirty little tricks, but the one that first comes to mind for me is that Christ-followers are supposed to help carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). God doesn’t expect us to struggle through life on our own. He put us on this planet surrounded by other people so we wouldn’t be alone, especially when our lives turn upside down.

Share the load

Instagram Burdens are too muchEveryone has burdens. Maybe you don’t think you do, but you do. We’re born with them. Some of us are born with more than others, and as we grow older, we accumulate more and more with every passing day. Health problems. Family issues. Job trouble. Impossible deadlines. Crushed dreams. Crazy kids. Insane in-laws. Lazy spouse. Nagging wife. Whiny kids. Name the thing that’s causing all your gray hair today, and I can almost guarantee it’s something that would fit in the burden category of your life.

Not all our burdens look alike, but we all have them. And the simple truth about our burdens is that we were never meant to carry their weight alone. The weight of our worries and troubles and fears is too much for us to bear without help.

So why are you trying? Why do you feel guilty when you ask for help? Why do you feel shame when you realize you can’t do it by yourself? You shouldn’t. God didn’t make you a pack horse for emotional trauma. It’s not your job to haul all that hurt and fear around on your own strength. So knock it off. Ask for help. And don’t be afraid of accepting it either.

But accepting help—and even offering help—is one part of the process.

Hand it over together

But what do you do when your fellow Christ-followers are worn out and beaten down with their own cares? If that’s the case, my wonderful supportive friends, I have to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. And believe me, I’m talking to myself here too.

I’m a fixer. I like to give people answers and help them understand how and why things happen. I want to do something to help, and usually that starts with me trying to solve their problem for them. I take their problems on my own shoulders. I feel their anxiety and despair and fear. And somewhere in my frazzled brain, I tell myself I’m helping, because at least they don’t have to suffer alone.

But I’m only making it worse. By taking their problems on my own shoulders, I blind myself to my own purpose. I’m not there to help them carry their burden; I’m there to help them carry it to God.

Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the LordGod didn’t make us to spend our days worrying and fretting over everything that’s wrong or everything that will go wrong. That’s not the way He wants us to live. And even though we’re supposed to help each other carry our burdens, we’re still not supposed to carry them in our own strength (Psalm 55:22).

God has promised to give us strength, to uphold us and sustain us. His power is right at our fingertips, free for the asking, yet we still convince ourselves that our troubles and worries are our own problems. And that’s not true.

God cares

He knows what you’re going through and how scared, uncertain, insecure you are. He understands that you feel like you’ll never measure up. And He gets that you’re afraid to ask for help because you don’t want to seem weak. But if you care for someone, it doesn’t matter what they need or how many times they need it.

God cares about you (1 Peter 5:7), and He is standing ready to help you carry all those things that are weighing you down.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and you Christians who are helping your brothers and sisters carry their burdens, remember that you’re supposed to be carrying them to God—not shouldering the load yourself.

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Bearing each other’s burdens doesn’t mean we carry them

When someone shares a problem with you, how do you react? Do you nod and smile sympathetically? Do you jump in and try to tell them how to fix their problem? Do you care at all?

I wear other people’s problems like a pack across my shoulders. At least, I used to. I’m getting better about it. But it felt to me like the only way I could help others. Bearing burdens with them. That’s what it means to bear one another’s burdens, doesn’t it? If I can’t sleep because a friend is having a hard time or because a coworker lost a job or because a relative is sick, that means I’m a truly dedicated friend, right? I’m bearing their burden with them.

Not quite.

We are called to bear burdens for each other, but what if it’s a burden too big for you to carry in the first place? What do you do then? And what good will you possibly do anyone if you wear yourself out worrying about something you can’t change anyway?

carrying_burdenToday’s verse is 1 Peter 5:7.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

It doesn’t matter if your worries and cares are your own or if they belong to someone else. If it’s something you care about, if it’s something you’re worrying about, give it over to God.

But, no! If I’m not worrying about it, that means I don’t care. Isn’t that how we think? That’s how I’m wired. I have some issue in my mixed up head that tells me the more sleep I lose over someone else’s problems, the better a friend I am. The more anguished I am over a friend’s misfortune, the better a Christian I am. After all, if I’m suffering along with them, that must mean I’m a step above other people who don’t feel anything.

Isn’t that how we think? Or is it just me?

Now, of course, we’re called to care about each other. Of course, God intends for us to relate to each other with kindness and compassion (and compassion truly is something I struggle with, in the generic sense). We’re not supposed to be cruel or selfish, but by the same token, we’re not supposed to run ourselves into the ground worrying about something we can’t do anything about.

What’s the point? To make yourself feel better? That’s not a sufficient reason to wear yourself out. Just think, if you spent less time worrying, you’d have more time to actually encourage the people you’re worrying about.

Acknowledge your friends’ struggles. They’ll have many. Acknowledge your own struggles. You’ll have more than your fair share, and denying them won’t help you either. But once you acknowledge them, also recognize that God is bigger. He can help you sort through all the difficult situations you’re facing today. Maybe the answer you get won’t be the one you wanted, but God will give you the answer you need regardless.

But don’t just shoulder someone else’s worries. Don’t try to carry someone else’s problems. You aren’t strong enough, and your shoulders aren’t big enough. Friend, you aren’t strong enough to carry your own problems.

But God is.

So if you try to shoulder someone else’s worries, just let them roll off of you and onto Jesus. He’s got it. God’s got a plan, and it’s good. And your worrying about it won’t change the outcome one bit.

Elements for the Seder meal (parsley, horseradish, salt water, and charoset), Wichita, KS

It would have been enough

I never used to cry in church. As a child, I’d watch adults cry and lift their hands during the worship service in church and wonder what there was to get so emotional about. Sure, I knew God, and I had a relationship with Him through Christ. He’d forgiven me of my sins, and I was thankful for that. But I just couldn’t wrap my head around how anyone could be so overcome by emotion just by singing a song.

Then I grew up. A relationship with Christ looks a lot different when you’re a child than when you’re an adult.

When I met Jesus, I was seven years old, and–let’s face it–there’s not a whole lot that a seven year old can do that needs the grace of God. Yes, a seven year old needs God just as much as a 70 year old, but one has lived a lot longer than the other–enough to make more bad choices.

I’ve lived long enough now to understand exactly how much God has forgiven me for. I’ve made enough bad choices–I’ve sinned enough–to understand why God shouldn’t love me, and a day doesn’t go by that I’m not amazed that He does anyway. But what amazes me even more is the fact that He didn’t stop with saving me. He loves me enough to take care of me too.

Elements for the Seder meal (parsley, horseradish, salt water, and charoses), Wichita, KS

Elements for the Seder meal (parsley, horseradish, salt water, and charoses), Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Peter 5:7.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

At the Seder meal I was fortunate enough to attend a few weeks ago, there’s one part where the leader reads a list of all the things God did for the Israelites. After each statement, the rest of the people at the table say: “It would have been enough.”

Because it would have been. It would have been enough if God had just led them out of Egypt. It would have been enough if God had just showed them how to build a temple. It would have been enough if God had just provided them with manna. It would have been enough. But it wasn’t enough for God. Because of His love, He went the extra mile.

That holds true today, and that’s what hit me as I sang in church this weekend. If God had stopped with just making a way for us to go to heaven, it would have been enough–more than enough. But He didn’t stop there.

Not only did He save our souls, but He made a way for us to communicate with Him, to have a relationship with Him, to live life with Him. He cares about us enough so that when we need Him, we just have to tell Him what’s happening. He cares about our problems. He cares about our daily life, and He wants to be a part of it.

Can we really understand that? Because there’s no reason why someone like God should care about people like us. But He does.

God deserves our praise and worship for being who He is. The Creator of the universe. The Eternal One. He alone is truly good and righteous, and for that reason alone, we should worship Him. But instead of being a distant, terrifying Deity, instead He sent His Son to die for our freedom because He loved us enough to sacrifice for us. Instead of standing on the sidelines of history, God has touched every moment in time. There’s not a moment when He hasn’t been involved in our lives. There’s not a time when He hasn’t cared about our feelings, our fears, our futures.

Do we get that?

Even if He hadn’t done so much for us, He’d still be worthy of praise. It would have been enough for us, but it wasn’t enough for Him.

So when your Monday becomes Mondayish today, take a moment and step back from your problems. Tell God about what’s bothering you because He cares about your life. He wants to be a part of every decision you make. He wants to walk through life with you.

Let Him. It’s the best choice you’ll ever make. And the more you get to know Him, the more you’ll understand just how much He loves you. The more you’ll understand just how much you don’t deserve His love. And then, you’ll cry in church too.

Rose at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Worry offers the illusion of control

Life is busy. No. Scratch that. Life is insane. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so. Everyone I know is busy. All of us are running around like crazy people with our hair on fire, scrambling to achieve something. We are looking for jobs or we’re trying to keep the ones we have. We’re trying to please people in authority over us or we’re trying to maintain the status quo.

So much to keep track of. I always feel like I’m forgetting something.

I fly to Indianapolis today for a crazy, banzai overnight, a work trip. And even though I’m sure I’ve got everything, I still feel like I’ve left something behind. Add that to the general feeling of insecurity and anxiety I already have because I have to go to a strange city and talk to people I don’t know, and I’m kind of a mess.

Rose at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Rose at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is 1 Peter 5:7.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

This is good for me to see today. It’s a good reminder. Because worrying is a choice. Well, at least, first, it’s a choice. Then, it becomes a habit.

Granted, there are steps to take to make sure we don’t forget something or that we aren’t irresponsible with what we’ve been given. And there are processes to follow to make sure that everything is done right. But after you’ve done your best, after you’ve followed all the steps, what good does worrying do?

I can’t control the flights. I can’t control the people I’m going to talk to. I can’t control any of the situations that I’m walking into today and tomorrow. So what good does worrying about it do?

I have to turn loose of it and let God take it from here. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re a control freak.

Worrying doesn’t really accomplish anything, though. I think it provides some sort of release, though, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. Maybe it’s some kind of comfort in illusion because by worrying over something we think we have more control over the outcome. We don’t. But it makes us feel like we do.

So my goal today is not to worry. What happens, happens. And I’m going to give my worries to God. And when I start to worry again, I’m going to choose to stop. It’s going to help me keep my perspective straight because if I can wrap my head around the fact that God is in control, maybe someday I’ll stop trying to take it back from Him.