Friday, March 16, 2007

Burdens and Shoulders

There's an old Jewish proverb that says "God gives burdens; also shoulders." Five words offering paradoxical truths about God; five words offering an emphatic definition of God. "God gives burdens." Taken alone, these three words could very well make a person want to run away from God rather than stay with Him. And many, looking at their own lives, might even blame God for allowing tribulation to fall upon them. They look so long at their troubles that before they realize it, they can see nothing else but an unjust, merciless God and a world no longer fit to exist in.

It's a good thing the proverb doesn't stop there. Instead, it goes on. "God gives burdens; also shoulders." The shoulders He has given us are the shoulders of our family members and friends, our colleagues, mentors (teachers and pastors)—and of God Himself. They are the shoulders we see ahead of us as we listen and learn with—and from—each other. They are the shoulders we sense behind us as we listen and learn with our families and friends. They are the shoulders we feel next to us as we listen and learn with our colleagues. And they are the shoulders we feel under us, lifting us up as we listen and learn from the still small voice which comforts us: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28

Isn't that a beautiful promise? I am grateful every day that my God has provided so wondrously for all of my needs. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about the enormous responsibility that comes with working with kids. Sometimes that responsibility seems like a burden that is overwhelming, almost paralyzing. And I’ve been thinking how impossible it would be to do this without a good team, without some powerful shoulders working side-by-side with me. That knowledge has made it easier to sleep at night, has made the thought of this school year bearable for me…

Paul tells us in Galations 6:2 that we are to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ—the law of love—of caring for your brother, your sister. But while you are being there—being a shoulder—for someone else, let God be there—be a shoulder—for you, and let Him work with you. The Psalmist tells us to give Him all our cares (Ps. 55:22). And Peter says to "Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

So, God gives burdens. But also shoulders. You see, without the last half of the proverb—without the power of God working in our lives—we can do nothing. Our burdens would so weigh us down that we would not be able to move. But with those shoulders, both human and heavenly, there is power. Power to be and to do. Power to change and be changed. Yes, God gives us burdens. But also shoulders. Thank God for those shoulders!

Photo--Tonight's snowfall. Where was this snow at Christmas?!!!


Sunny said...

That's so pretty even snow looks attractive!

Heidi said...

Thank you. I needed to read this.