BEARING, NOT BURYING ONES BURDENS

By Pastor Wes Poole

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – NRSV

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – NRSV

In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy. He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep. He couldn’t eat, and he avoided his friends. The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition. Concluding that his patient needed to have a good time, the physician told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi. Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles. “You must go and see him,” the doctor advised. “Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown. He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.” “No,” replied the despairing man, “he can’t help me. you see, I am Grimaldi!”

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you my thoughts and feelings after encountering part of the local homeless community in Kirby Park. Addiction and mental health issues can be rampant in that community, but certainly not limited to it. I referred to those folks in the park as “invisible people”…for they surely can be! It’s just too easy to pretend that the dark, uncomfortable parts of the world don’t exist. Yet as I pondered this all further in thought and prayer, I realized that we all can have invisible parts of our lives. Society encourages us to show our “happy face” to the world, like the clown in the story above. Yet we know that the façade we often present to the world is just that…a work of artifice; a veneer of “OK” covering the pain beneath. That in itself is a depressing thought, but we have tools in our spiritual belts to address and deal with such things. Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel to bring our pain to him, and he will give us comfort. St. Paul takes it a step further when he tells us to bear one another’s burdens. In my opinion, one of the most powerful tools we have is simply…kindness. Yes, I know I talk about it all the time, but it really is the first step in truly being able to share each other’s burdens. There’s a saying that’s made its way around social media and the general discourse. “Be kind, you never know what someone is going through.” Another random blogger I ran across put it this way: “Kindness – all the time, always. It costs nothing. It hurts no one. It helps everyone. You never know, it might switch something in someone’s brain… and even save their life.”

“It might switch something in someone’s brain…” We all know how an unexpected kind word can turn a bad day around. It can literally flip a “neural switch” that even if just for a few moments, might make all the difference in ours or someone else’s life. The Gospels show us many occasions where Jesus demonstrated compassion and mercy without qualification. Invariably, the person’s situation was improved and their difficulty replaced with joy. This is still the calling of the Christian in this day and age. Can we look each other in the face and see the face of the Lord Jesus? Can we then do as he did, and try our best to bring a sister or brother from darkness to light? Can we help each other look our “invisible pain” head on, and help each other bear it together? These are questions we should never stop asking ourselves. The good we can do, in Jesus’ Name, has the power to transform lives, communities, relationships, and indeed the entire world. Remember, as Paul tells us in Philippians, “[We] can do all things through Christ who strengthens [us]. Thanks be to God!

Let us pray…

God of steadfast love and perfect peace, we ask you this day for open hearts and discerning minds. We know that many of us carry burdens we don’t easily share with others. Strengthen our resolve and fan the flames of compassion and love in us; that we may bear one another’s burdens, practice kindness in all things, and make your healing love known to the whole world. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Be well, be kind, and be safe.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Wes Poole †

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