What Can You Do When Bearing Their Burden Breaks You?

what do you do when bearing their burdens breaks you

We all know someone carrying a burden. A friend on Facebook who recently got divorced, a family member in a bad relationship, a coworker with a wayward child, a mom friend who lost her husband. We don’t have to look too far to find someone in need because we live in a broken world. And if you’re like me, you see a loved one in distress, and it might as well be a giant Batgirl signal blaring brightly in the dead of night. You grab your cape from your closet, ready to jump into action and bear the burden of another.

You are armed with a checkbook, and a hand mixer is your sword to whip up some breakfast bread. You buy the groceries, gather the gift cards, get on the meal train, and send out the texts with the praying hands emoji. This is your mission.

There is something wonderful in this initial phase of burden-bearing, but many times, the urgency fizzles, assumptions are made that someone will get it from here, lives move on, things get a little too messy, the cape becomes heavy, and the glory of helping another slowly fades.

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Be Cautious of Your Reasons for Bearing Their Burden

If we are not careful, that burdensome boulder of another may crush us as well under the weight of our own pride and savior-complex. When our desire to help is driven by our desire to be seen, our people-pleasing instinct, or our guilt, we are simply increasing the load. Often we picture ourselves at the wheel of the lifeboat looking for people to save, when really God told us to be the person who wades in the deep with others, pointing them towards the lifeboat.

Bearing Their Burden Is Not Meant to Be Done Alone

This is the thing with burdens–they are heavy, messy, and complicated. It is the very nature of a burden that should point us to the realization that we are incapable of dealing with it alone.

Galatians 6:2 commands us to bear each other’s burdens, and Romans 15:1 calls on the strong to bear the failings of the weak. Jesus himself gave us pictures of what it means to serve one another, wash feet, welcome in strangers, and comfort the broken-hearted. But in order to bear one another’s burdens, we must first realize our own need for a Savior, and that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Thankfully, God in His grace doesn’t leave us in this burden-bearing state on our own. In fact, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 

If we are not careful, that burdensome boulder of another may crush us as well.

While it is good to feed the mouths, clean the homes, watch the kids, and raise the money, our actions must have the heart and goal of pointing them to our Ultimate Burden Bearer, the personal God who knows our sorrows. He is our Savior who once and for all removed the burden of our sins for those who believe. It is because of Christ that I can lay down my cape because he carried my cross.

For more on what it really takes to be a great friend, check out this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Great Friends: 9 Qualities to Be One and Find One – 031!

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