7-9-2017 Sharing a Burden


July 9, 2017


It was years ago, well before Connie and I moved to Ohio, that I received a call from my Grandmother one afternoon. I recall to this day the weariness in her voice as she spoke, “Larry, I need you to come to our house as quickly as you can get here. Your Grandfather has just cut his fingers on the table saw. I think he needs to go to the hospital, he doesn’t. I need you come and try to talk some sense into him.” A chill ran up my spine as I heard those words. You see, my Grandmother would call occasionally but never like this. The tone of the call and the sound in her voice left no doubt concerning the burden of the situation.


We lived about 20 minutes from their home and I left immediately. When I arrived I saw Grandpa sitting at the table with a large bath towel around his hand. It was soaked through. As calmly and confidently as I could I made a crack that I understood he had nicked his fingers and wondered if I might ‘take a look’. He agreed and removed the towel. What I saw were three fingers barely there. Again, as lightly as I could, I assured him that I thought that just perhaps this time ‘Grandma was right’ and he needed to allow me to take him to the hospital. Thank the Lord, he agreed and off we went. The look in Grandma’s eyes cried out “burden lifted’.


The short conclusion of this incident is that they were able to save the fingers by installing pins vertically from the fingertips downward. Still, it took months to heal and the fingers were never completely the same after that. As I thought about that this week it occurred to me that often in the heat of an incident we really should consider the option to listen to and consider counsel from those we trust. I believe that is especially important when that advice and counsel comes from brothers and sisters in Christ who desire the very best for us.


Yes, I understand that often the incident involves very personal and sometimes intimate details. And with that we need to remember a couple of things. First, you share only what you are comfortable sharing. The person with whom you are sharing with only needs to know that you have a need for prayer. They do not need to know every detail about the incident. If you choose to share those details it is your choice, not because your confidant has backed you into a corner with questions. Second, if you do choose to share or seek counsel be very clear whether you allow that person to share with others or not. If you do give permission, be specific as to how much detail they may share. Those who have shared with me have heard me ask permission for this very reason. If I am instructed, ‘no’, not even my wife will ever hear a word.


Additionally, if you are the person who has been taken into confidence please remember, counsel begins foremost as a listening heart. Often a person seeking counsel really only seeks someone to hear their hurt, not try to ‘fix their problem’. It’s only by listening that you can determine if advice or shared tears, or both are sought. Second, even if you are given permission to share, you need to have respect that the person sharing may not want every intimate detail shared with others. If they do not provide details, do not ask for details. Third, if they do choose to give details, unless they give you specific approval to do so, you are not entitled to share those details with anyone else. Not even under the guise of a prayer request. That means not even, “pray for so-in-so, they are hurting or going through a trial.” You have been assigned their confidence… be confidential and do not turn that privilege into gossip. The only exception I can think of is if that person intends to do harm to themselves or someone else. If so, there is a responsibility to intervene. And last, be an encourager. Let that person know you have heard them and will support them as God leads.


God’s Word commands that we are to bear one another’s burdens.


Galatians 6:2 (NASB)
2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.


The word ‘burden’ in this verse means ‘an oppressive weight’. So, when we are led within the bounds of God’s Word, we must bear the burdens we able to with, and even sometimes, for them. But please, be aware that God’s Word doesn’t stop right there, it continues on with the command… (you cannot separate one from the other).


Galatians 6:5 (NASB)
5 For each one will bear his own load.


The word ‘load’ in this verse means ‘a load to be borne’. We must also remember that there are burdens we cannot (and should not) try to bear for someone else. Burdens God often allows for the reshaping or redirecting of lives, to get a person to listen to Him, or to bring a person back into useful fellowship with Him. When God is ‘working’ we should never try to ‘fix’ God’s work in that person’s life. I guarantee you, we will only mess it up. As hard as it is, we should always allow God the freedom to work within and correct lives… even when it’s difficult to ‘only trust and pray’. Remember, if we stay on our knees will cannot get up and interfere.


My Grandmother needed a confidant at that very moment, someone whom she could trust to bear some of her burden. I had the privilege to be trusted to do that. There is great responsibility and fulfillment when one is deemed worthy to have earned such confidence.

Thank You for your faithfulness! Pastor Larry