What Does it Mean to Bear One Another’s Burdens?
I remember one time at a parenting workshop, we learned to suffer with our children. This meant that rather than solve every struggle our children experience, we need to co-suffer with them. Help them understand that sometimes things are difficult. Sometimes the best we can do as parents is experience the suffering with our children. With time, our children will figure out that suffering is a natural part of life that can be embraced rather than freaking out every time.
I’m sure there are those who suggest that allowing children to suffer is cruel and unusual punishment. Those children tend to grow into adults who expect everything handled for them. Unfortunately, when ‘reality hit’s and they discover they must learn to suffer through it, they get depressed and turn to all sorts of unhealth coping mechanisms.
Brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 5:22-26;6:1-2
I’m pretty sure that Saint Paul was not thinking of children learning to share their toys when he said, “Bear one another’s burdens.” The entire context of this passage is how we interact in the spirit of love. We cannot love one another if we leave each other to suffer alone. Let’s be honest, learning to share toys goes a long way to learning how to interact in the spirit of love. Learning the world can a cruel place and that our loved ones are here to co-suffer with us, goes a long way to finding the courage to live counterculture in today’s society.
Christ was born in a cave for our salvation, as we will say at Christmas in a few weeks. He came and co-suffered with us in life. He didn’t just call down from heaven and fix everything from a distance. He came and helped us learn to embrace the struggle without losing hope. That’s the problem with going it alone. It is too easy to lose hope.
Christ came and ultimately ‘fixed’ why we suffer, but we still suffer. It is only when we co-suffer with Him that we understand that our suffering will pass, and that we will be filled with joy in His Kingdom. In this same way, we can help each other learn to accept suffering as a regular part of life. We cannot avoid it, but we can endure it with love for God. It will pass. It always does.
Helping each other to learn this important perspective is how we can bear one another’s burdens today. Christ isn’t expecting us to remove the burden and suffer instead of another. He wants us to co-suffer and help each other have hope.
Go back and read today’s passage from Saint Paul again. This time, ask yourself, “How am I helping my brothers and sisters learn to suffer with hope?” If the answer is we are not helping them, then begin today. The Holy Spirit has given you all the tools you need…. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.