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"Thought for the Week" by Elder James Horan (Rock Springs)
"Bearing the Burdens of Others"
October 23, 2016
This week’s lesson from the “Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide”, is titled “Curse the Day”. A reference to Job’s bitter, mournful plea in light of all he has lost. A heart-rending expression of such intense anguish, that Job wishes he had never been born. Have you ever been tempted to feel this way? Has the reality of sin inside of you and outside of you ever prompted you to think this thought? What brought you through this terrible time? A time where you were sure that no one understood, no one cared, no one was with you in your pain? I hope you were surrounded by “brothers and sisters” who cared, who came alongside you in your time of trouble and demonstrated God’s constant presence… His carrying you and your burden. I hope it was our sacrificing God’s intimate bearing of you and your suffering that brought you through it all. Because Job needed this experience, this level of intimacy with God in order to have peace despite his extraordinary loss. When God explained to Job His intense presence in all of creation, Job then stopped his lament and rested in faith in the God his own “eye sees” (Job 42:5).
This may be the most sublime truth that Christ came to manifest. That God is with us… “one” with us… “one” with us when we are tempted, “one” with us when we sin, “one” with us when we fall, “one” with us when we are sure we are alone and are perplexed. His abiding presence is perhaps the most blessed truth Christ conveyed. And His bearing us and our sin is not in place of our bearing it all, not in place of any responsibility we may have in our lost-ness, but bearing it with us… “one” with us. Not negating the pain and suffering but metamorphosing the pain and suffering into a blessing. He will not deprive us of the pain and suffering, but will bear it with us and bless us with the pain and the suffering. For He suffers with us; suffers more intensely than even we ourselves because “He (knows) what is in man” (John 2:25). We can be blind even to ourselves. But God suffers no such blindness. Thank God for seeing us as we are, for not casting us aside, but coming alongside each of us and bearing us and our burden with us.
Because we have experienced this first-hand, He calls on us to come alongside our brothers and sisters and bear their burdens with them. This is true compassion, true empathy, true sympathy. To come close to our brothers and sisters “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). And that comfort is found in God’s bearing our burden with us. Therefore, the comfort we have to offer is not mere lip-service. It is not a passive, off-hand, half-hearted promise to “pray for you”. It is much deeper, much more personal, much more costly. Our comfort is to be like God’s comfort… bearing their burdens with them. And this truth is the law of all heavenly inhabitants, the law of Christ Himself. “Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
If we have experienced God’s comfort, we will be in a place where we can comfort others. The blessedness of God bearing us and our sin with us, motivates us to emulate Him in this vital mission. Thereby being His voice, His hands, His feet, His heart in a world suffering alone and lost. Our active presence to others loudly proclaims, “No”. “No. You are not alone. I am with you in your pain. The same God who is with me in my pain has led me to be with you in your pain. And when I am constrained to walk away from you, that same God will stay with you… always. He will never leave nor forsake you. It is yours to forsake Him, not His to forsake you”.
This is one of the great lessons from Job. Pain and suffering is not a punishment from God. It is not retribution. It is a result of sin, to be sure. But God over-rides pain and suffering for our good. Taking our sin and demonstrating His saving love through it. May we be His humble children, bearing our “own load” (Galatians 6:6) with God and being His ambassadors of love to our lost brothers and sisters, bearing their load with them… leading them to the true Sin-bearer, who bears their sin with them and blesses them in the victory. It is our high calling. Serving at the deepest need of mankind.
With brotherly love,
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