Galatians 6:2: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Romans 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Each of these passages talks about being intimately involved in helping to alleviate the suffering and struggles of others. But what does this look like? Timothy Keller explains it this way: “Picture how you help a person who is trying to carry a load that is too heavy. To help with a burden, you must first come very close to the burdened person, standing virtually in their shoes. Next, you must put your own strength under the burden so its weight is distributed on both of you, thus lightening the load for the original bearer. To “carry the burden” means to come under it and let some of its weight, responsibility, and pain come to you” (Gospel in Life, p. 65).
Our example in burden bearing, as Galatians 6:2 suggests, is Christ, who fully bore our burdens on the cross. It is that ultimate model that inspires and motivates us in our burden bearing for others.
Our approach to bearing the burdens of others should be one of love. We must remember, though, that we are not Christ, and we cannot take the burdens of others fully onto us, but we are present to ease the burden. Our role is only to loving help and to be available to others in their need. We are not asked necessarily to fix the problem or take the problem away.
I love the imagery of Christians coming under the burdens of people and lifting some of the weight off them. There is a natural tendency in that visual to have a sense that we are in this together and we will get through it together and we can grow to know each other more in the process.
That makes the call of burden bearing a whole lot more appealing and a whole lot more valuable to all involved. What burdens of others can you help to bear this week?