This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “carry.”
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NIV)
As Christians we are called to support others and to walk with them. Sometimes it means carrying their burdens, and sometimes those burdens can be heavy.
Yesterday, there were two particularly difficult situations within our church family, and I also spent an hour mentoring someone else dealing with something heavy.
It was a privilege to come together with others to help carry those burdens and ease the pressure on those who were struggling, but I have also learned the importance of recognising our limits – of not taking on more than we can carry.
Just a few verses further on in Galatians, Paul writes a statement that seems at first glance to contradict what he says in verse 2: “Each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:5 NIV)
In his book, “Being There,” Dave Furman provides a helpful explanation.
The word used for “load” in verse 5 refers to something like a travelling pack or backpack. It represents our personal responsibilities before God – to work at our job, to raise children, to nurture our personal walk with God. There are things no-one else can do for us that we have to do for ourselves.
The burdens referred to in verse 2 are different – the word refers to someone struggling under a crushing weight. Maybe someone is dealing with bereavement or illness or complicated family situations that go above and beyond the normal day-to-day challenges. This is where we are called to help and to walk with people.
We also need to be careful, for our own well-being, not to take on too much. As Dave Furman says, we are called to carry one another’s burdens but not to be crushed by them. It is hard to get the balance sometimes and I have definitely taken on too much and allowed myself to be crushed at times. This is why community is important – so we can take turns in carrying the load.
This is far too big a topic to cover properly in a Five Minute Friday post, but I’ll finish with a quote from Dave Furman’s book, which I’d highly recommend:
“Remember that Christ was ultimately the only one who was crushed by our burdens. And not just our burdens, but also our sin. All of it was on him. He was crushed for our iniquities. He is close to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit. He carries our sorrows and was pierced for our transgressions, and by his wounds we are healed. Don’t try to be someone’s Saviour, because it will crush you and you will fail. People don’t need you; they need Jesus.”