We have a small canvas that hangs in our house with a green painted cross and the verse “I thank my God every time I think of you” (Phil. 1:3). It was gifted to be by a friend and it reminds me of college and lessons learned the hard, painful way. Lessons learned through difficult times and tears shed in my tiny college apartment. It takes me back to a time in my life when it felt like I alone carried the burden of filling every grain of sand that exists in the world into a mason jar or attempting to climb to the top of Mt. Everest while wearing flip-flops. I felt scared and frustrated and helpless.
It reminds me of the evil in the world and the silent battles people fight every day against that evil.
I keep the painted canvas on display because it also reminds me of my friend. It reminds me of the time she stood next to me and pledged to carry my (now seemingly small) burden with me. It reminds me that we don't have to be silent about our afflictions; there are other people willing to stand beside us and share not only in the joys of life, but also in the trials. And while there are so many untrustworthy and hateful people in the world, there are trustworthy, honest people out there too, willing to fight battles and wipe tears and carry burdens. We don't have to climb Mt. Everest alone.
How beautiful it is that Jesus tells us to "bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). This was one of the first verses I memorized, but I often overlooked it because- yeah, I know this already- bear one another’s burdens, love your neighbor as yourself...I learned this in Sunday school when I was 10 and received a sticker on my Bible for it too. But when I sit down and really think about the implications of this verse, I am amazed. Because if we really bear one another’s struggles and pains, if we really love our neighbors as ourselves, if we truly care for each other the way Jesus did, it changes everything.
It’s why we have small groups and feed the homeless and bake casseroles (The train of thought regarding casseroles is so clear to me.) It’s why we cry while listening to hardships and why we cultivate relationships and speak kindly to strangers. We love because He first loved us. We are privileged to share in each other’s burdens because Jesus, the ultimate burden-bearer, took our sins upon himself. And bearing one another’s burdens is to imitate Christ.
I am constantly in awe of the intricacy, yet simplicity of the gospel.
Jesus, help us to bear one another’s burdens the way you bore ours: selflessly and sacrificially loving.