Sunday, 26 June 2022

I can carry you

Our responsibility is not to bear the `burden` by ourselves but to carry the person to the burden bearer – The Lord
My love for the works of JRR Tolkien began when I was 9, when our teacher Mr Dargue, used to read to us from the Hobbit every afternoon before we went home. I loved Tolkien’s ability to create a whole totally believable new world. In my teenage years I went on to read the Lord of the Rings and again get engrossed in the world Tolkien created and the all-consuming battle of good versus evil, domination, destruction and the ultimate victory by the good. Recently while watching the Lord of the Ring’s trilogy on DVD again I was struck by one line of dialogue that hit me in a way I had not seen before. The brief background is that an evil dominant Lord (Sauron) is seeking to take possession of “a ring of power” that will give him ultimate power over the whole world. A small insignificant young Hobbit called Frodo is alone tasked with the job of ring bearer to take the ring to a volcano and throw it into the lava to destroy it. As he journeys to the volcano with his trusty companion Sam, the weight of the evil power of the ring drains, discourages, and consumes him leaving him weak and fearful. As the two companions approach the entrance to the heart of the volcano, Frodo is so overwhelmed by the weight of the burden he carries that he stumbles and falls and cannot get up. His trusty companion looks at him with compassion, and with the knowledge that he cannot take the ring from him for it is Frodo`s task alone to carry and destroy the ring, says to him “Mr Frodo I can’t carry the burden but I can carry you” and picks him up and carries him towards the volcano. This line spoke to me in a way it never had before, about carrying burdens.

In many of the opening paragraphs of his letters Paul explains to the believers that he often gives thanks for them and prays for them constantly. In Galatians 6:2 (NLT) he encourages us to `share each other’s burdens`, and pray for each other continually. Ephesians 6:18 says `Stay alert and be persistent in prayer for all believers everywhere` (NLT). Jesus constantly encouraged us to pray for each other and to be persistent in prayer for each other. The parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) shows that the woman persisted in her request for justice, to the point that the unjust judge granted her request, and encourages us to persist till we get the answer. In another parable about a friend seeking bread at midnight, Jesus says `Keep on asking and you will receive, keep on seeking and you will find keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you (Luke 11:9-10 NLT) In the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10 v 30-36), Jesus says that we are not to pass by on the other side if someone is in trouble but to stop and help them.  But the problem can come when in following these directives to pray and bear each other’s burdens that’s exactly what we do, we bear each other’s burdens, literally.
When those we love, or people we care about are going through difficult situations we can often feel overwhelmed by what they are facing, and our first thought often is `what can I do to help solve this, carry the difficulty, or sometimes get consumed in the emotion of the situation. We literally carry the burden ourselves. Although this approach is full of compassion, if we just leave it there then it results in 2 people being buried under a great burden. This then has two effects, we ourselves get stressed, drained, and sometimes overwhelmed by what they are facing and start to experience the same effects as the person with the difficulty. Also, if this happens a lot it makes us unwilling to come near to help a person as we are concerned that we will be overwhelmed again. We are leaving out the vital part of the equation; God. Sometimes I find that even as I am praying about a difficult situation another person is in, I am trying to find the solution in my own head, and sometimes even go so far as to tell God my wonderful solution and expect Him to go along with my wonderful plan!

But in doing this we end up not pursuing God's purpose for that person’s life but ours. Sometimes we ourselves and other people have to go `through` some situations, and seeking to remove and solve that situation (burden) from a person prematurely would result in the perfecting work of God to be stilted. But I believe we are to carry the person. Not by ourselves using our strength, or willpower etc. but to the Lord in prayer, always laying them before His feet, always seeking His will for them, His strength for them, His purpose in their lives, His plan for their salvation, deliverance and not ours. This is sometimes not easy. We ourselves have to lay down all our agenda to help them and simply carry them into the presence of Jesus and trust Him that He will lift the burden Himself or give them the endurance to be refined by the experience they are going through.  

The Lord may well reveal to us practical ways for us to help them and we should then fulfil those to the best of our ability, but we should not forget that our responsibility is not to bear the `burden` by ourselves but to carry the person to the burden bearer – The Lord.  

The words of the old hymn ring true here.  

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer
Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.

This hymn rings true for our own lives, but also for when we are bearing each other’s burdens. What peace we often forfeit because we carry the burden and not carry the person to the Lord in prayer. 

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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