Straight from a Burden-bearing Heart
By Lisa Elliott
I’ve been doing a lot of weight lifting lately. Before you commend me for my athleticism, it’s been more of the emotional kind. I’ve been bearing the burdens of family members and friends and others around me in my sphere of influence as they carry some pretty heavy duty stuff. It’s what I do, by God’s design. Provide emotional support for others to help them navigate through challenges, losses, and heartbreaking circumstances. However, sometimes it gets…unbearable! At the same time, it just doesn’t seem enough. And that weighs heavily, too!
I admitted this to one of my closest friends, whose burdens have been unbearably heavy. It was my intent to encourage her grieving heart. I confessed, however, that I was at a loss as to what to do for her other than carry her to Jesus in prayer.
Not unlike four men in Scripture who didn’t know what else to do with one of their friends except to carry him to Jesus—literally. Talk about weight bearing friends! We read about them in three of the four Gospels (Matthew 9:1–8, Mark 2:1–12, and Luke 5:17–26). It was their prayerful concern for their friend that led them to Jesus. And it was their faith that Jesus responded to.
Nor is it unlike what I personally experienced, come to think of it. Twelve years ago this month I was carried to Jesus like I’d never been carried before. People prayed for me and my family like I’d never been prayed for. Praying prayers I didn’t know how to pray. Some stopped whatever they were doing in the middle of the day to pray. Some were awoken in the middle of the night. And I felt every prayer! It was a remarkable experience and something I’ll never forget. I felt… well, “carried”. There’s no other way to describe it.
I was reminded of that time in my life as my friend began to express her thanks to me for now carrying her to Jesus—the only One who could truly lift her burdens. Baffled, but blessed, by my friend’s boomerang encouragement, I physically sat down and took notes as to how my prayers on her behalf were being effectively used to relieve her of some of the weight she was carrying. Just knowing she wasn’t carrying them alone. That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps what she was saying was exactly what some of you needed to hear, too, to help lighten your load or that of someone else’s you’re bearing.
- Prayer: The power of prayer cannot be underestimated or minimized. Whether in the middle of the day or the middle of the night, when God calls you to pray, pray.
- Prayerful expressions: Practical expressions of love and support are like prayer with hands and feet. Use the gifts and resources you have to bless and encourage.
- Prayerful Listening: It’s the greatest burden-sharing gift you can offer someone who needs to process his/her inner thoughts, fears, and struggles. Give your friend a safe place for their heart to land.
- Prayerful Encouragement: By encouragement, I don’t mean lots of words. I simply mean affirming statements like, “You can do it!” “You are doing it!” “One step at a time.” Or simply give a quick call to say, “I’m praying for you.” Or put a card into the mail. It can serve as a constant visual reminder of your prayer on your friend’s behalf.
- Musical Prayer: There’s nothing like music to calm the savage beast in all of us. Especially when it contains the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and words of scripture and encouragement from God Himself.
- Prayerful Validation: Acknowledge the pain your friend is experiencing. Feelings and emotions are never wrong. It’s what we do with those emotions that can be problematic. Allow your friend the freedom to express him/herself honestly and without judging them.
- Prayerful Godly Perspective: During times of crisis or depression or pressing circumstances it’s hard to see or think clearly. Pray for God’s wisdom on your friend’s behalf. Offer to pray with your friend. Then prayerfully guide them toward a godly perspective.
- Prayerful Counsel: The best kind of counsel to offer anyone is godly counsel that’s based upon the Word of the all-knowing, all-wise God. However, don’t feel you have to quote His Word at your friend. That can come across as a “pat-answer” or “quick fix”. Rather, prayerfully wrap the principles of His Word into a warm blanket of love and affirmation. Give them something to prayerfully consider for him/herself.
- Prayerfully enter in: When invited, don’t be afraid to enter into your friend’s pain to feel with him/her and to more sensitively walk alongside him/her. If you can’t enter in, don’t fake it. Rather, admit you don’t understand what they’re going through. But assure him/her of your prayer as he/she endures it.
- Prayerful Tears: Our tears and emotions are an expression of prayer from the inner sanctum of our hearts. Our groans are what the Holy Spirit intercedes with. So, let the tears fall as your friend shares his/her pain. It not only validates his/her pain, it gives him/her permission to feel it.
What or who is weighing heavily on your heart today? What burdens are you bearing on behalf of someone else? Carry them to Jesus. Talk to Him about them. And then prayerfully leave them in His capable, nail-scarred hands.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org