Have you ever despaired of life itself? Has grief ever weighed so heavily upon you that to even rise from your bed seemed impossible? Have you ever been overwhelmed by the stress and strain of sin that to continue on would take more strength than you have?
When those unbearable loads seem to pin us to the floor, God has blessed us with burden bearers.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 ESV).
To bear simply means to pick up, to carry, to remove, and is in the present tense. So Christians are instructed to keep on carrying the burdens of others. In stark contrast to this burden-bearing is the burden-adding of the Pharisees (Luke 11:46), something which we must be careful to avoid.
The result of this burden-bearing is a fulfilling of the law of Christ. When Jesus was asked what the two great commandments were, he answered, in effect, love God supremely, and love your fellow man as yourself. Later, Jesus told his disciples that he was giving them a new commandment, “that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another” (John 13:34). To love others was not new or novel, but to love with the selflessness of Christ was breaking new ground.
It is Jesus who shows us what bearing the unbearable looks like. He bore our sins in his body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). And so, it was to Jesus that Paul and company turned when the affliction they experienced caused them to feel so “utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
After attributing their deliverance to the power of God, Paul then implores the Corinthian brethren to help bear the burden: “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:11). Even in those moments when God is the one lifting, Christians still also must help.
By gently, lovingly, and prayerfully lifting, we can help bear the unbearable burdens of our brothers and sisters.