The burdens of life

An old spiritual declares, “I’m gonna lay down my burdens, down by the riverside.” We all know what burdens are. Someone once gave this counsel, “Above all, be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load.”

There are burdens of the body. Jack was stricken with arthritis at the age of six. Now at 36 his body is turning to stone. He has to speak through his teeth. He said once, “I can’t remember a single day in all my life when I was not in pain.”

There are burdens of the mind. Harry was in the war in the Pacific. Their Jeep hit a land mine and his three buddies were blown to bits. He was thrown clear and after months in the hospital returned home. “They were all men with families,” he said one day through tears, “I was single; why couldn’t it have been me?”

There are burdens of the heart. Phillip and his young wife were returning from vacation. A drunk driver struck their car and she was killed. I spent a lot of time with him in the months that followed. He said one evening, “Preacher, I know I am not very good company. I’m still having a rough time. My heart is buried out there with her.”

Burdens. How do we deal with them? The king of Judah asked the prophet Jeremiah, “Is there any word from the Lord?” When the burdens of life seem unbearable, that is a good question to ask, and the answer is yes, there is.

The first word is in the book of Galatians: “Everyone shall bear his own burdens.” Paul is saying to each of us, “Bear your burdens with courage.”

In the same book Paul tells us, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Over the door of a wayside chapel are found these words: “Pause here, kneel down and pray; then go refreshed to lift your brother’s load and find your own made light.”

The final word is from the Psalms. “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.” Yesterday is gone; it can’t be recalled. Tomorrow is in the future; nothing can be done until it arrives. Live today at its highest and best and leave the results to God.

Howard Thurman, watching Haley’s comet as a boy, cried out to his mother, “What if the stars fall on us?” His mother answered, “Don’t be afraid, whatever happens God will take care of us.” He never forgot her words. She didn’t promise the stars wouldn’t fall on them. She offered no magic. She simply said, “Whatever happens God would take care of us.”

The Apostle Paul said it in these words, “If we live, we live to the Lord, if we die, we die to the Lord, so whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord’s.

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he served as senior minister for 23 years. He writes a column for several newspapers.

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2010-04-15 digital edition

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