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December 26, 2020

The Blessing of Being a Burden

By Grant Nixon

If I had to rate and review this past year I would say, “1 star – would not recommend.” This has been a difficult season in most people’s lives and because of that I have spoken to so many people in need of help. I’ve spoken with people who need help emotionally and spiritually because of the relentless anxiety and depression that has haunted them this season. I’ve also spoken with people in need of financial help because of all they’ve lost due to the pandemic. Regardless of who I spoke to, the conversation typically ended in the same place. I would ask them, “Why didn’t you reach out sooner?” And their response was almost always the same, “I didn’t want to be a burden.”

I completely understand that sentiment and honestly, I think we all do. When we are in that position we think, “Why should my problem be their problem?” Or we don’t reach out because the thought of it brings unparalleled feelings of shame or embarrassment. Which makes sense because the idea of a burden doesn’t sound like a good thing in any way. When you think of the word “burden” what comes to mind? A weight to carry or drag? Something slowing you down? A financial drain? The crushing responsibility to destroy the one ring in the fires of Mordor? (Was that too Lord of the Rings for you? Well, nerd up.) So our typical understanding of “burden” is far from our understanding of “blessing.” 

When I speak to someone who is in need of help and they are feeling like a burden, I always ask them, “What if the situation was reversed? What if I was sitting where you are? Would you begrudgingly help me or be happy to help?” The answer is always, “Of course, I’d be happy to help!” This is typically a lightbulb moment for them as they realize their burden looks different to those who love them. Their need is not shameful, embarrassing, or ugly – it’s something more beautiful than that. Their burden becomes a blessing for others. 

How is that true? The Scriptures tell a more beautiful story about our burdens than we do. Look at Paul’s instructions to the church in Galatia, “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Paul says that we are never more like Jesus than when we are bearing the burdens of others! Think about it: Jesus took the burden of our sin and placed it completely on Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Jesus, your emotional, spiritual, financial need becomes an opportunity for your brothers and sisters to walk like Jesus. Your burden is someone else’s blessing. 

No wonder Jesus told us that “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In giving, we get to love like Jesus and therefore share in His joy! I had a friend call me and tell me that he was driving, and the Lord put me on his heart and so he called to check in with me. I told him that I was actually dealing with a financial burden and was trying to figure out what to do. He told me he was going to go to the bank and get whatever I needed and bring it to me. (Yes, this was in the days of the dinosaurs before Venmo). I quickly responded like a lot of you would, telling him that this wasn’t his problem and that I could figure it out. He replied, “Let me help. Don’t take my joy.” My burden was his blessing. Your burden is someone’s blessing, but you have to trust your brothers and sisters with it. 

God has designed the community of faith to be a primary conduit of his blessing to us. In other words, God often provides for his people through his people! Paul writes of the Philippian church’s financial support and calls it “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Philippians‬ ‭4:18‬). So it pleases God for the Philippian church to provide for Paul in this way! John writes that evidence of God’s love in our hearts is to provide for a brother in need (1 John 3:16-18). God is at work in us when we provide for a brother or sister’s needs.

God’s provision through each other goes deeper than just finances. Look at James 5:16: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” James says there is healing for you and me through trusting each other with our burdens of sin and brokenness. That means God has healing for some of you and it’s waiting on the other side of bringing that burden to a brother or sister. I have experienced this many times when I’m wrestling over temptation or sin in my life that is overwhelming, and I’m asking God to give me strength to fight. Oftentimes that strength is given to me in abundance only after I have trusted a brother with my struggle by saying it out loud. God has strength for you to fight the good fight, and it’s often found in the support and prayers of your brothers and sisters. To get to it, we have to trust and lean into the community of faith God has put around us. 

When we are in need, we pray for God to provide, and we should! But recognize that the Father might have already answered your prayer for financial, spiritual, and emotional provision in the person sitting next to you in worship, spending time with you in your Grace Community, or serving with you in graceKIDS!. And your next step is to believe that your burden is someone else’s blessing, and trust your brothers and sisters to be like Jesus and bear it well.

 

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