Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
There is something I have noticed among us. A lack of empathy. A lack of desire to seek understanding when it comes to someone else’s burden.
Maybe it’s the rise of social media that tends to put us on notice when things are amiss. Maybe it is our busy lives that have established this pattern. This lack of response to the needs of others. But, honestly…we don’t carry each other’s burdens very well.
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
We are quick to rejoice in success. Celebrate all the great things. As we should! I certainly want my achievements and all that is going right in my life to be acknowledged. You know…all those “happy” moments we tend to overshare with our virtual world. Celebrating is easy.
However, when that same brother or sister shares a trial, a burden. All is silent. Virtually forgotten. Simply because burdens are hard. And, we don’t like hard. We rarely know what to do with it, or how to respond.
I keep a devotional on my desk at the elementary school in which I work. I read it every morning before I start the day, right before I pray for each child that will grace my office threshold. And, on a day when I felt especially burdened, this is what I read:
“Jesus’s earthly life included a wide range of difficulty. He felt the searing heat of the sun, the pain of an empty stomach, and the uncertainty of homelessness. Emotionally he endured the tension of disagreements, the burn of betrayal, and the ongoing threat of violence. Jesus experienced the joy of friendship and family love, as well as the worst problems faced here on Earth. He is the one who can say, ‘I’ve been through that. I understand.'” -Jennifer Benson Schuldt; Our Daily Bread 9/11/17
When others leave us when things are hard. Leave us alone in our weeping. We have Him. He will carry our burdens each and every time.
But, I am going to go even further by saying that we need to be Jesus to others as well. Carry a few extra burdens ourselves. Weep with some neighbors. Sit a while in their sorrow.
You do not have to have personally experienced every painful thing that another has to truly show empathy. You don’t have to even claim to understand them. Empathy gives you the ability to say “I haven’t experienced that, but it must be/have been hard.” Love gives you the capacity to reach beyond yourself and take time to say “Tell me more about it.” And, true compassion and understanding occurs when we readily seek to learn more about the hard stuff. To seek, ask, and find out how exactly we can manage to bear that heavy load together.
As brothers as sisters in Christ, are we like Him?
Do we provide a safe place for others to hide and rest? Do others feel comfortable sharing their sorrows with us? Do we respond like Him when we don’t understand the struggles of another?
And, if we, like Jesus, have felt pain and suffering, are we willing to reach out and listen to the pains of others? Or do we encourage them to “get over it,” well…because that’s what we had to do? Or, worse…do we simply walk on past, because it’s not personal enough for us? We don’t have time? Or, it’s just too hard?
The same Jesus who felt our pain would have sat down a while and listened. Reached outside the text boxes and hashtags of social media, and extended an invitation for coffee or to break bread. Tried to understand those he didn’t. He is our safe harbor, therefore expects us to be the same for others. Not to judge. Not to dismiss. Not to determine if our personal burden is heavier. Not to offer pat answers when we are too ashamed to admit that we really don’t have any.
I encourage you to shed the burden of technology today, and reach out to help pick up the heavy burden of another being. Walk alongside them. Weep with them. Hurt with them.
Even if you have no words. Even if you simply sit in silence. Even if you don’t understand their perspective. But, still showing that you are willing to walk with them anyway.