Bearing Burdens


Hurting people need us to share with a heart of compassion and an ear of support. Joe Martin offers three suggestions to help us effectively "bear" another's burdens without "delivering" them from them.

What can I do to ease someone else’s burdens?

Real Men Connect Reply:

The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:2 that we are to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” But where do you start if someone close to you has been diagnosed with Cancer, suffered the death of child, is going through a divorce, or just lost their job? What can you say or do to take away their pain and suffering?  The truth the matter is you can’t; you can only support them through it and help them ease some of their pain.  Only God can deliver them from pain and suffering; we can only support them in it.

As a man, I’ve learned the hard way, that it’s usually better to SIT (and listen) rather than try to SOLVE (and deliver) someone from their hurt and pain.  In those moments, the suffering person needs a heart of compassion and a ear of support rather than a mouth of reason and a strategic blueprint to deliverance.  So here are three (3) suggestions to help you effectively “bear another’s burdens”  without “delivering them from their burdens.” 

First, be present. Sometimes the last thing someone wants to do when they’re in pain is to talk to anyone.  And they may even blatantly tell you they don’t want to talk to or see anyone.  But be present anyway.  Assure them, that you know they’d rather be alone, but let them know you want to be there with them.  So if it’s physically possible, show up and go to where they are and meet with them.  Even if they resist, let them know you promise not to talk or say anything TO them (unless they ask); you just want to physically be there WITH them.  Because the only thing worse than someone suffering through pain and grief is having to suffer through it alone.  Even if  you can’t be there, physically, get on the phone with them and just let them talk, vent, cry, yell, complain, or whatever. In Romans 12:15, the Word says we are to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Second, meet their needs.  The last thing you want to say to a person who is grieving or suffering is, “Is there anything I can do for you?”  Although this sounds good and well intentioned, 9 times out of 10, they’re going to say, “No; thank you, I’ll be okay.”  So instead of asking them what they need, look around to see for yourself what needs to be done or handled, and then JUST DO IT – without them asking you to do it. Most of the time, people are in so much pain, they can’t think straight or remember that they need to take the kids to soccer practice, dump the trash, make dinner, cut the grass, do their laundry, go grocery shopping, pick up their mail from the P.O. Box, or whatever.  If you know anything about their typical routine, don’t ask for permission to do something for them, just do it.   Trust me, they’ll appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Third, ask for permission to pray for them.  I’ve never had anyone say no, even if they weren’t Believers.  Praying for them seems to be kind of obvious, but it’s HOW you pray for them that’s really important here.  It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out prayer, but there are three (3) things you want to make sure you touch on in the prayer.  When you’re praying for them, make sure you:

1. Remind them of who God is.  He’s sovereign (all knowing); He’s omnipotent (all-powerful); He a burden bearer; He’s loves them; He’s a comforter; He’s a healer; and He’s a provider. In your prayers for them, remind them that God is anything and everything thing they need Him to be at that moment in their life.  You know what they need, so remind them who God is in light of their need.

2. Remind them what God said.  God’s Word is filled with over 3,000 promises (maybe more), but you need to remind your friend of the ones that speak to his or her specific situation when you’re praying for them.  Of course, you can’t speak the Word unless you know the Word, so prior to visiting or talking to the person, make sure you choose the promises that best address their current need. Maybe they need to be reminded that “They’re more than conquerors in Jesus Christ” or “They can do all thing through Christ who strengthens them,” or “All things work together for good for those who love Him,” or “He will wipe every tear from their eyes” or “He will heal the brokenhearted and bind their wounds.” I think you get the point.

3. Remind them what God has done. When we experience hurt and pain, we all seem to occasionally suffer a side effect called “Spiritual Amnesia.”  Because as tough as our present situation is, we conveniently seem to forget about our past and how far God has brought us. We forget the times the pain almost suffocated us; when we didn’t think we would ever get out of bed again; we thought we would never go back to work; it would be too difficult to encourage someone else; or impossible to trust again, but we did (because He did). Somehow, someway, God helped us make it through. If you really have a close relationship with the grieving person, you probably know their story and their past trials and tribulations. In your prayer, gently and lovingly remind them of how God brought them through in the past, and remind them that He CAN do it again.  Just check God’s resume’.

These are all good places to start in bearing one another burdens, but you noticed in the prayer that we didn’t pray for the person to be delivered from the pain.  Why? Because we’re not God, and we don’t know his ultimate plan for their pain (or ours).  All we DO know is that He plans to use our pain for good.  So we don’t necessarily need to ask God to remove their pain; instead, we should pray that God gives them the strength to endure it.  That’s why we’re in their life; we’re part of God’s divine plan to help them endure their season of grief.  Just be faithful, and give them what you would want to receive if the roles were reverse.

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