Thursday, November 14, 2013

Burden Bearing

My Dad has often talked about a sermon he read years ago. It was delivered by the Rev George W Truett on June 12, 1917, in Fort Worth, Texas. It was entitled "What To Do With Life's Burdens."

There are three texts in scripture laying out how we should deal with the burdens that weigh us down in different degrees.

1. Each person should bear his or her own burden. The Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians chapter 6 and verse 5 says this: "For every man shall bear his own burden." Another translation puts it this way: "For each will have to bear his own load" (ESV). 

Each of us has been born with a purpose for our lives. And with that purpose comes a responsibility to pull our weight, to face up to and accept what it is we are called to do. No one else is just like us; so no one else can do for us exactly what we need to do for ourselves. We need to carry our load when we are able, with the strength and the talents we have been given.

2. We should bear one another's burdens. Verse 2 in the same chapter of the book of Galatians says this: "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

I thought about that quite a bit. What is the law of Christ to which Paul is referring? Jesus said that the commandment Love your neighbour as yourself is second only to loving God himself. And in the room where he talked to his disciples shortly before he would be arrested and crucified, he made the words even more personal, even more pointed: Love one another, he said to them.

If we were to care for someone as we would care for ourselves, we would do what we could to help that person, wouldn't we? One of my favourite verses is to be found in the letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4 and verse 32: Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. This is how we can bear each other's burdens: kindly, with tenderheartedness and forgiveness, knowing that that is how God treats us. We should do whatever we can to ease our fellow journeyers' load when we can.

3. Cast our burden onto God. The 55th Psalm, verse 22, tells us just that: Cast your burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain you; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. There are some things that are just too big for us to bear alone. It seems like the waters are so muddied, the situation so difficult, that there is no one to whom we can turn except God. And he encourages us to do just that; he promises that when we do, he will be there to support us, to carry us through the deep waters we are encountering.

I saw all of this firsthand today. I encountered a difficult situation with a client yesterday evening; I thought late into the night what I could do to rectify the situation, to get us back on track. At about 2 a.m. I came to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing I could do. I couldn't bear this burden by myself. So I cast it onto God. You know better than I do, dear Father, I prayed. Please take this situation, take control of it. Let it play out to benefit this client, to work for Carswell, and to glorify you. I leave it with you.

Enter my friend Sandra. She is located in Toronto but she works alongside me to ensure our key customers' information and service needs are met and that they are empowered in turn to do their job, whatever form that might take.

Sandra and I on my trip to head office in October

I emailed Sandra this morning, laying out the situation. Not too much later I received an email back saying she had researched behind the scenes, an area I cannot touch out here in Alberta; and she had orchestrated the solution - it was all taken care of.

You know what impressed me most of all? This customer is not even a client that falls under Sandra's umbrella! She bore my burden on top of bearing her own heavy load today. And in addition, she gave me words of encouragement: "You have the customers' interest at heart at all times ..."

Sandra is one of the dearest people to me at Carswell. Not only do we work together, we have prayed together and laughed and cried together. I can tell her things that I can't talk about to many people because I know that she listens with tenderheartedness and holds my confidences with kindness. She seeks my good, as I do hers. And she seeks the good of all those around her. She truly loves her neighbour.

Through Sandra's cheerful hoisting of my burden onto her shoulders today, I experienced all three aspects of burden bearing. I carried the burden for myself for a while; when it grew too onerous for me, I gave it to God; and he in turn led me to Sandra, who took up the part that could be fixed with our human capacity.

I hope that every one reading this has strength for the day and for the burdens you have to bear; I hope you have a Sandra in your life to pick you up when you are bent double; and, most of all, when things are at an impasse, I hope you know God is always waiting to hear us, ready to take up our burdens himself.

I am so blessed.
Our colleague Derek, who also does all
he can to help with the load!


  1. Dear Karyn,
    I have tears in my eyes, how very gracious of you!
    You are my dear friend and I feel blessed to know you!
    Thank you so much, thank you!

  2. Karyn, I love your face! You have carried many burdens through the years, and yet you look out with hope and steadfastness. You look the same as when we were tiny! Thank you for being faithful. I love Sandra's supportive arm around you - so grateful to her! One day we will all meet, gathered around the Great Burden Bearer, when all our burdens will be lifted permanently. Your face will shine with hope fulfilled, and the same steadfastness then too!

  3. I cast all of my care upon You
    I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet
    And anytime I don't know what to do
    I just cast all of my cares upon You

    Grandpa Ironside first taught me this song while in India and I couldn't but help remember it while I was reading your blog. Thanks be to God that we don't have to bear our burdens alone. Thank you for the encouragement Aunty Karyn! It's just what I needed to hear today. I love you! <3


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