Thursday, January 5, 2017

Our Portion of Faith

It has literally been forever and a day since I have posted here, but I felt a tug at the heart. Most of the time this blog is dedicated to DIY and home decor. Occasionally, though, I share my faith. Today seems to be one of those days. I have had a few conversations lately that made me want to dive a little deeper into the thought of "Bearing one another's burdens." Mind you, there is nothing earth-shattering here. Just my thoughts.

We are told in Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." For most of us who follow the Christian faith, we ignore this verse. We really don't want to air our dirty laundry, or hear about someone else's...especially in this day and age when everything posted on social media portrays our "highlight reel." Granted, we probably have a select few in whom we will divulge our secrets, but for the most part we keep our problems to ourselves. When someone is brave enough to reveal their struggles, we tend to listen for just a bit, and then go on with our daily lives. If that brave soul continues to share on a regular basis, we eventually roll our eyes and run in the other direction and hide. I'm sure each of us can think of at least one person who fits that description. If you can' may be that person...I'm kidding!! I remember when I was younger there being certain women in the church who would come forward after the sermon (regularly), asking for prayers. After a few times, it became sort of a joke, and even annoying because it was cutting into lunch time. It was especially irritating if the preacher had been long-winded that day. Shameful, I know, but those thoughts did run through my mind. :-)

Bearing each others' burdens requires slowing down, looking up from our screens, and making eye contact, as well as soul contact. I don't believe that we are required to personally take on someone else's burden as our own. The Psalmist writes, Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22) In some instances, we can help lessen the load, but other times, circumstances won't allow it. However, there are some very important things we can do. We can listen, and we can pray.

Listening to someone unload can be downright exhausting, especially when they are going through a trying time. As a hair stylist, I get to hear A LOT about someone when they are sitting in my chair. Sometimes it's good news, and then other times it's just awful, and all that person really needs is an ear to listen. Two things I have had to learn as a listener, though. 1.) I cannot make these burdens my own, and 2.) I cannot compare my life to theirs. Those are difficult lessons to learn, and ones that I haven't quite mastered. There have been several times where I have literally dropped to my knees in tears for friends or family who were suffering, asking God to lessen their load. And it can be especially frustrating when you don't see immediate results. The bible tells us that patience is a "fruit."
Gal. 5:22
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
For me, patience is a lemon...still a fruit, but sour to taste. :-) 

We have several examples in the bible where strong leaders were either praying intercessory prayers, or asking for them. Christ, when He was about to be led to the cross, prays for His disciples because He knows the trials they will face. Paul requested from the church at Ephesus  “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
We must pray for those who are burdened, but have the understanding that everything is done in God's time.
I mentioned earlier that we cannot compare our lives to the ones for whom we are praying. It's really hard when we see others who seem to be doing more than us. Who seem to be killing it in God's kingdom. Who are completely on fire for God's cause. And when they become burdened, it causes us to take a moments pause and reevaluate our own lives. Maybe even bring about guilt in what we see as our own shortcomings as a Christian. Why aren't we doing more for the kingdom? Should we be doing this or that to bring more souls to Christ? However, in that moment, we must realize everyone has been given a "measure of faith" by God.

Romans 12 says:
 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

We do not all have the "same function" or the same "gifts." We are all wired differently, and it's 100% ok.  We should focus on the gifts that God has given us and make the most of them. Comparison and guilt kill joy, and they cause us to focus inward instead of outward. How can it be possible to help those who are burdened if we are dwelling on what we perceive to be our shortcomings? 

All in all, the only way I have found it possible to "bear another's burdens" is to lie those burdens at the feet of Jesus and wait patiently, while holding the hand of the one who is burdened.