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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bear One Another's Burdens

Aware: having general knowledge of a situation or a fact
Bear: carry or support; move, fetch, deliver, tote or lug
Care: concerned, attach importance to something; look after and provide for the needs of

Go with me to Galatians 6. In verse two it says, "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." In the Greek, the word burdens means to be hit in the chest, having the air knocked out of you, or struck by the enemy. Have you felt that way before? 

My husband and I have found ourselves in another season which has felt much like a sucker punch to the gut. I have continued to become sicker and weaker, leaving doctors confused and without answers and with me missing more days of work than I'd ever like to. My husband has been stretched thin trying to provide for us, complete his graduate school work, and take care of me. In addition to God's grace, it is the intentional care we've been shown by others that has helped us find courage for trials we are facing. 

There is a huge difference between being aware and having genuine care for others. It is easy to go to church and look up and down the aisles, aware of other's trials. Maybe you know of someone in a medical situation, a marriage crisis, a financial struggle, etc. It is the "Christian" thing to do to bow your head and agree with their prayer requests. Let's be honest, after that, you may or may not think of them throughout the week and offer a short prayer on their behalf. 

But do you care

In addition to prayer, what are you doing to care? Care is an action word that should be visible. Did you call and check on them - provide a meal - take them to coffee - mail an encouraging letter - offer to babysit without compensation? It is hard in this fast-paced society to do that anymore. We are so caught up with our own jobs, responsibilities and families that hands-on care of others is not the norm anymore. Intentionality is not easy to come by. To your grandmother, it was probably just the natural thing to do when someone was going through a hard time. 

The command in Galatians is to carry one another's burden - and so fulfill the law of Christ. You don't fulfill the law of Christ by simply saying a prayer when you see the person. You fulfill the law of Christ when you do something about it. When your prayers result in an action. When you go visit the person. When you help financially. When you bake some cookies. Send a card. Clean their house… 

'For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40

It saddens me that as believers, this is an area we've has become so very lax. I have interviewed a few friends who agree that it's easy to be aware of the needs of your fellow church-goers, but do very little about it. If we are too busy or too inconvenienced to take care of the needs of one another, can we possibly be taking care of the lost who need Jesus so badly? 

Church, we are His hands and feet! My challenge to you is to use them this week to tangibly lift the burden of someone else in your circle. The needs are abundant. There is so much you can do! It doesn't matter how big or small the gesture. "Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." - 1 Corinthians 15:58

Maybe you are the one who has had the air knocked out of you. God will send people to you in your struggle to help you carry on. Receive the kindness of others without question. Let them help you. Let them bless you. Do not rob them of a blessing by being independent. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to ask for help - and accept it graciously. God did not design us to walk through this life alone. Lean on those around you and allow them to help lift the burden. 

Friends, bear one another's burdens this week. Take action. Go beyond aware and show someone you care. Lift the weight and allow your friend to catch a breath. There is always someone worse off than you - seek them out. In blessing them, you will find yourself blessed too. 

Thank you to my care team in this season: Daniel, I love you so. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Mom & Dad  who have cooked, cleaned, puppy sat, marriage-counciled and served us faithfully. Nita, thank you for your sincere prayers and timely encouragement. Amanda, Rob & Kassie, for taking great care of my kids while I am out of the classroom. The West's for making us dinner, taking care of Flynn, watching our house and blessing us with baked goods! The Langford's for providing places to stay and meals as well as encouragement and prayers. My siblings for dessert and light-hearted fellowship. Rodney for helping us see Dr. K., George & Cynthia for being our Lubbock parents, Gertrude and Nanny for making me laugh so much! You all have truly helped bear this burden with us. May you reap what you have sown lovingly. Because of you all, we are feeling stronger, supported and ready to conquer the road ahead.