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Our Burden Bearer

By Jennifer E. Jones
Guest Writer -- I’ve been to Sunday school enough times to know that God doesn’t take vacations. He doesn’t take a breather, and He doesn’t get much sleep. It’s a basic fact, but I recently found myself in the middle of trials doing the typical “God-where-are-you?” routine. It felt like I carried my troubles all alone without relief or even a glimmer of hope that the end was in sight. So, I asked, If God is here, then why isn’t He helping?

I was contemplating this the other day in my favorite place for deep thought – a bookstore with a cup of coffee in my hand. As I sat down in a Barnes and Noble near my apartment, my prime window spot was perfect for people watching. Sometimes watching the world takes your mind off yourself.

Before I could figure out which latte would lift my spirits, I noticed a young couple with a baby and a toddler walking out of the grocery store next door. They were all carrying bags – even the toddler. He held a package of diapers barely covered in plastic and dragging on the sidewalk.

He was trying his best to hold the bag up, but it was nearly as big as he was. After struggling, the boy and the bag when down to the ground, and I could see him mouthing “help” to his parents, who were several steps ahead of him by now.

If you’ve ever walked with a toddler anywhere, then you know that their little legs can significantly slow down the pace. I was expecting the father to take the bag from the child. Dad certainly wasn’t carrying that much. He seemed strong enough, and it would certainly speed things up.

Instead, his father stopped, put the diapers back in the bag, and helped the boy to his feet. When the child dropped the bag again seconds later, the father did the same. He didn’t scold the child for lagging behind. The third time he looped the boy’s arms through the handles of the bag so he could wear it like a backpack. The boy was all smiles as he walked steadily down the sidewalk.

I thought it was cute at first, but the wisdom in it resounded in my mind. Aren’t we a lot like this child? Whether we asked for it or it was given to us, sometimes we wind up carrying burdens that are too heavy or awkward to handle.

It would be so much simpler if God just took it from us, wouldn’t it? He could send a check in the mail, instantly heal our bodies, or mend our broken relationships. He’s God. That’s got to be nothing for the One who created the universe.

But instead, He lets us carry it. He walks right beside us and adjusts the burden just enough so that it’s bearable. It sounds cruel, but there’s a method here.

James 1:3 simply says that “the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (NIV). Trials sometimes serve no other purpose than to make us tougher. Every day you carry that burden, you’re a little bit stronger than you were the day before. On the surface, it seems sadistic, but in reality it’s the best spiritual fitness regiment you’ll ever be on.

An interesting addendum to this story is that the boy still couldn’t carry the bag on his back. It kept slipping off his tiny shoulders. His father then walked behind him with his hand gently holding the bag up.

You may still feel the burden on your shoulders, but it’s God who’s carrying the bulk of the weight. And it’s comforting to know that He’ll hold you up all the way home.

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