Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
– Galatians 6:2, NIV
What does it mean to carry each other’s burdens? Perhaps this, at least in part, is what intercession is – taking the burdens of others and raising them up to God in prayer. We can bear with others through difficult times, standing with them and crying with them and helping in any way possible – and always lifting them to God in prayer. God invites us to offer our burdens and our issues to Him, and he invites us to be His representative on earth and do the same for others, sharing the weight of other people’s problems and giving them over to God in prayer and surrender.
The soul that waits upon the Lord is the soul that is entirely surrendered to Him, and that trusts Him perfectly. Therefore we might name our wings the wings of Surrender and of Trust. If we will only surrender ourselves utterly to the Lord, and will trust Him perfectly, we shall find our souls “mounting up with wings as eagles” to the “heavenly places” in Christ Jesus, where earthly annoyances or sorrows have no power to disturb us.
– Hannah Whitall Smith
Richard Foster talks about this in his book on Prayer, encouraging us to take other people’s pain onto our own shoulders for just long enough to lead them to surrender it all to God. This concept intrigues me – how we as individuals can carry each other’s burdens so that our loved ones may find it easier to surrender to God and give them over into His hands. John Baillie said, “Give me a stout heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others. Give me a believing heart to cast all burdens upon Thee, O Lord.” May this be our prayer as we surrender to God our shoulders and all that we are carrying for the sake of others.
As we surrender to God may we remember that no matter how many times we are called upon to support and uphold our loved ones through their struggles, we can never be God for them. We cannot hold onto their issues for them – we have our own to deal with – and we know that only God is the perfect counselor, knowing each of us more intimately than we know ourselves. We must surrender our own burdens, and those of our loved ones, to God. He can hold onto them and He can help us carry them. Only God knows how best to help and counsel each one of us, and to Him must we bring the things brought to us.
The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship.
– John MacArthur
Through surrender may God teach us what it means to acknowledge that He is Lord and that we are not – that He is in charge of our lives and the lives of those who choose Him. May we surrender to God the burdens that people bring to us and offload on us, and allow Him to show us that only He can bring freedom and holy guidance. So may we surrender to God our shoulders and everything on them – the worries and pains that come from our own situations and those of others. Jesus told us that if we want to follow Him and be His disciple we must be willing to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). Perhaps a part of what this means is to willingly take onto ourselves the issues of other people, so as to intercede for them – and help them surrender to God, as we give over to Him the things that are burdening them. Sarah Camp put it this way, “Sometimes you feel like a pack mule. But then you pray and realize that God is the donkey”.
We cannot do it alone; we cannot bear the weight of everyone else’s struggles on our own shoulders. We would be crushed under it all. Let us surrender to God everything on our shoulders, especially the things that we are carrying for others – be it worry about a family situation, or nervousness about a friend’s illness, or aggravation regarding the spouse’s job, or pain when we think of injustice and poverty, or anything else. May we surrender to God our shoulders and let Him free us from those things that hold us down. It may appear valiant and noble to keep hold of those things and let them cause us pain, because “it’s for other people, therefore it is serving them and is good” – but this is not the way God wants us to serve others. May we surrender to Him and let Him show us how to serve, how to deal with the troubles that other people are carrying, and how to healthily “bear each other’s burdens, and this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NLT).
Dear Father, the One who bears all our burdens,
Thank You that You can use us to be there for others and that we can at the same time surrender it all to You.
Thank You that You want to bear our burdens, even the things we carry for others.
Please, teach me to keep those things in Your hands.
Help me to not try to be the hero or suffer unnecessarily things that aren’t mine to suffer.
Teach me to surrender to You everything on my shoulders – including every friendship.
I love You Lord, and I choose to give over to You the things holding me down and burdening me.
I choose to take up the cross in the ways You show me and lead me – please help me.
I surrender to You my shoulders – please give me Your strength.
May I live in Your strength, enduring all things in a way that pleases You.