Have you ever tried to carry something that was too heavy for you? I’m not talking about something you couldn’t lift. I’m talking about something that you could hold, but not for very long. You struggle to lift it, with each step you exhale trying to manage the weight and size of the object. You can only go a few feet before you have to set it down, take a breather, look at how much further you have to go and then try again. You repeat the process over and over until you finally reach your destination. It’s exhausting and can give you medical problems if it’s too heavy or too far.
Imagine carrying that same object and a friend comes over. They see you struggle and instead of offering help, they offer suggestions on how to carry it better. “Lift with your legs, not your back,” they say. How does that make you feel? Clearly they see you struggling, but they are doing nothing to help you. It gets frustrating. How about if instead of helping you they cheered you on? How would that make you feel? “Come on! I know you can do it! You’ve got this.” While it might help morally, it still doesn’t help with the problem.
What you really want when you’re struggling like that is for them to say, “Hey, let me give you a hand.” When they grab the other side, the weight is halved. Suddenly it’s more bearable than it was. You may be able to go a little bit further before you have to set it down. Their physically helping you with the object is a lot more useful than telling you how to do it or encouraging you to do it. Would you agree? Then why do we do the first two when we see someone struggling with heavy burdens?
I once heard a person say, “With a friend, joy is doubled and pain is halved.” I could also add burdens are halved. Galatians 6:2 says, “Help to carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” It didn’t tell us just to encourage someone who is carrying a burden or to tell them how to carry it. We are told to help them carry it. When someone is carrying a burden, it’s a lot like that large object. They may only be able to take a few steps before they’re exhausted. They may not feel like they’re making progress. While words of encouragement are nice, helping them with the heavy lifting is what’s needed.
Think of a time when you’ve had a heavy burden. What is it that you wished people had done for you? Go and do that for someone else. When I see others who are going through something I’ve been through, my first thoughts are, “What did people do that made me mad? What did I wish people had done.” I then go and try to do the second instead of the first. It’s important that we look around us today to see which friends are struggling. While a word of encouragement is nice and a few tips on how to bear the burden is great, I’m sure they’d love some help with the heavy lifting.