It’s too easy to imagine that our lives are the only ones under stress. Yet the more stress we encounter the more likely it is that we will isolate ourselves to the island of our distress. Isolation, at least in this way, is like a warning siren that we are losing our emotional grip upon reality.
When we are isolated our burden is magnified. We think more and more on it. Indeed, even our subconscious thought space is filled by a focus on either how badly we are managing our burden or how unfair life is—that we must face such unrelenting stress.
In such a psychological place we barely think of other people.
But other people are just as prone as we are; perhaps even more so in many cases.
The idea of loving one another, as Christ commanded us in John 13:34, can be imagined, in the present context, as applicable to not adding to another’s burden. We have no idea what others are dealing with. We cannot think the way they do. We cannot imagine life through their eyes. We don’t even have their situation and all their background with which to advise us. As far as other people are concerned we are blind.
We should not add to another person’s burden; more so, we should be reducing it, by adding to their joy. This can be difficult in the midst of our burden—as we claw away from the islands of our isolating distress. It can seem practically impossible to empathise with someone when we are grappling with the impossible ourselves.
Thankfully we don’t need to overcome this shattering sense of confounding distress.
When we comprehend, afresh, that God’s power is instituted when we come to the end of our own power, we are granted entry into a fabulous thought: our burdens are good, for when we are burdened and too weak to manage them we are ideally placed to trust God in our weakness.
When we admit our weakness and we, therefore, trust God in the midst of it, God’s Spirit gives us this telling knowledge of others and their distress. We become intuitive.
It is a glorious thing when we are empowered of God to consider another’s burden even ahead of our own, because, in that, our burden is reduced as it is considered in the light of reality.
One of the greatest practical ways of loving others is to consider their burden and do anything we can to reduce it. When we focus on the other person’s burden, somehow God lessens our burden. Burdens should not isolate us; instead, we should share each other’s burden.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.