Have you ever been surprised by sudden emotion? I mean, really surprised? Like, where did that come from?
I have, and I’ve discovered some of the reason why we, as Christians, are overtaken with surprise emotions on occasion. Before I explain, let me clarify that I’m not referring to sudden outbursts of wrath or hysterics–or anything remotely resembling a lack of self-control of the flesh. (We’ll save that for another day.)
No, I’m talking about compassion, mercy, and love.
GOD’S WORD AT WORK
I was recently praying for someone who was going through a major life change–all of which was out of her control. I knew she was struggling and it was on my heart just to lift her up in prayer. I believe God is faithful and He hears us when we pray, but I wasn’t prepared at all for the sudden flow of tears that took my breath away.
I literally paused in the middle of my prayer and said to God, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting that.” And then I continued to pray for her burden to be lifted and for God’s peace, which passes all understanding, to guard her heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Her burden wasn’t heavy on my heart because she was a best friend or a family member. Her burden became my burden simply because God is faithful to His Word.
Paul said in Galatians 6, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (verse 2). But interestingly, just a couple verses later, he said, “For every man shall bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:5). At first glance, it would seem there’s a contradiction, but these verses each contain a different word (and definition) for burden.
In 6:2, the word for burden is baros, meaning a burden or difficulty. In 6:5, the word for burden is phortion, meaning responsibility. The first one describes our responsibility as Christians to help each other bear up under the weight of life in general. The second one is a reminder to all Christians that we are supposed to assume responsibility for our work and not expect others to do it for us.
When I suddenly broke down in sobs while praying, it was God’s way of allowing me to “bear another’s burden.” In other words, although it took me by surprise, I was quickly reminded that when we yield ourselves to God, He will use us.
I prayed for her burden to be lifted (although not quite in those exact words) and that’s what God did by allowing the weight of her grief to be put on my heart. As I cried in prayer, God miraculously gave her peace “that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
How do you know that Daphne? One, because it’s God’s Word, and two, because I spoke to her later, and she was much better than she had been –without me ever mentioning my tears for her.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
Jesus said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
Paul reminded the Galatians of our call to love. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
I believe God allows us to bear the burden of lost souls, wayward children, grieving widows, and much, much more– if only we’d first yield ourselves to prayer. And the real beauty is this: God does the same for you and I through other believers. Burdens that should have crippled us under their weight, are miraculously lifted by His grace because someone began to pray for us.
So the next time you’re overtaken with grief for another, thank God for allowing you the privilege of easing their burden. For in so doing, you have fulfilled the greatest commandment.