I casually flipped through the local paper on Sunday morning before church. I got to the beginning of the classified section – which always begins with the obituaries. I saw the photo of a young man and my heart froze. I started to read what was written in his obituary and my heart was broken and deeply grieved. I glanced back at his picture, thinking how handsome he was, closed the paper and finished getting ready for church. My thoughts kept drifting back to this boy, “He was only 15. One year older than my daughter. How could such a thing happen?” I knew that my heart would be heavy about the circumstances for some time. I knew that I would be burden bearing for this family. I needed to remember what I had to do in order to deal with this in a healthy manner. Here are my 6 Critical Tips For Healthy Burden Bearing.
What Is A Burden Bearer And Am I One?
Before we get into those 6 tips, maybe we should go through what a burden bearer is. You may not have even heard the term before.
Ever since I was little, I was shamed for being sensitive…or ‘over-sensitive’. I would cry easily, I would feel grief deeply within my soul. I would hear things like “You need to toughen up” or “You need thicker skin”. A parent should never say these words to a sensitive child. There was a reason why God created me to be so sensitive.
A sensitive person is more likely to be extraordinarily sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
As I got older, I would often find myself feeling down for no apparent reason. Or perhaps I heard about something horrible happening far away and it would bother me for several days. I finally realized that I was burden bearing…or helping someone carry their burden.
A good example is a tragedy that occurred a few years ago in the USA shortly before Christmas. Children were involved and a number of them had been killed. When I heard about it, I just started to weep. I went to the church event I had committed to serving at and I wondered how anyone could carry on with their day. I was completely shaken by the tragedy and I found it difficult to focus on my task.
Then it dawned on me…I am a burden bearer and I am going to feel this circumstance much more intensely than most others. But I will need God’s help in understanding what burden bearing is.
Have you been told that you are overly sensitive? Have you ever felt someone else’s tragedy very deeply even if you didn’t know them personally? Have you ever felt ashamed of your tears when you cried for someone else – even someone you didn’t know? Have you felt depressed or down for no apparent reason? If any of that resonates with you, you just might be a burden bearer.
Handling Burden Bearing With Godly Wisdom
A burden bearer must acknowledge that she is, in fact, burden bearing. Sometimes I forget that I am a burden bearer. I will wake up during the night and just feel dreadfully heavy – my heart feels intense and troublesome. Or I’ll be going about my normal, daily duties and I suddenly begin to feel weighed down. I would continuously ask myself why I am feeling that way since there is no real reason to. Nothing is happening in my life that would lead to my feelings of heaviness and grief. Then finally, it dawns on me. I am burden bearing. I must recognize when I am burden bearing.
I must take action with this burden through prayer. Sometimes I know exactly who I am burdened for and other times I ask God for more clarification. Sometimes I just end up praying for ‘someone’ who may need a prayer at that moment. Either way, the response to burden bearing is prayer. This is intercessory prayer. A sensitive person will be prompted by God to pray, inviting Him to act on that person’s behalf. If I fail to pray for this person, I will continue to feel the weight of that burden, which is not the purpose of this gift. My immediate response, when I am burden bearing, is to go to God in prayer and lift this individual or family up to the Lord.
Bring Burdens To Jesus
A burden bearer must remember her role. A burden bearer ‘helps’ bring the other person’s burden to the cross of Christ. I am not meant to carry someone else’s burden long term. Only Jesus can do that. When I do not pray for the person I am burden bearing for, I carry that burden longer than I am required to. Ultimately, it is Him who carries all of our burdens. We trade our heavy load for His yoke. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, remember. Our job isn’t to prolong bearing burdens. Our ‘job’ is to bring those burdens to Christ and hand them over to Him. Essentially, it is all His doing anyway.
If we do not bring these burdens to Jesus for Him to deal with, we will end up just being sad and distressed. Depression and sadness occur when we try to bear burdens ourselves. When we do not bring them to the cross, we may even become depressed. Depression is a hazard of this gift when it is not handled properly. We can spiritually collapse from the weight of these burdens. Bringing these burdens to Jesus immediately is key in developing this gift. Often, we must bring burdens to the cross multiple times each day as the Holy Spirit leads us to pray.
We Can’t Rescue
As burden bearers, we tend to be very ‘sensitive’ – this means we get hurt often. We have this desire to ‘rescue’ others, enabling them to persist in certain behaviors that are inappropriate. We tend to want to ‘keep the peace’ to the point of giving up our ‘rights’ and needs. These behaviours need to be kept in check. We need to handle our gifting responsibly.
Pray Without Ceasing
If we continue to feel the burden after we have prayed and given it over to God, this may mean that God wants us to continue praying for this person a bit more. Sometimes, I will feel the burden lifted from my heart only to feel the burden again an hour later or the next day. Sometimes it is even only after a few minutes, depending upon what I am praying about. It doesn’t mean that I have continued to carry it; it just means that God wants me to pray for this person again.
Only God Can Heal
From reading the obituary of that young man, I can only assume that he took his own life. I also assume that the reason was due to bullying. These are reasonable conclusions from what was said in the obituary. I try hard to not cry in front of people because most just don’t understand. I don’t know the family at all. So being upset about this tragedy would not make any sense to someone who doesn’t understand burden bearing. But I realize that this family is most likely not Christians and that I might be the only person praying for them. I will continue to pray that the God of all comfort will draw them close to His heart.
It is not my job to try and fix the person I am carrying a burden for. Ultimately, it is only God who can heal and work on this person’s heart – He is the only one who can change the heart and bring His healing touch to the broken.
My heart desperately needed this reminder today. Did yours?
Are you a burden bearer? Do you struggle with the idea of helping others carry their burdens?
I hope that these 6 Critical Tips For Healthy Burden Bearing helped you today. This is not an easy gift to have. In fact, when the feelings are so intense, I sometimes wish I didn’t have it. Perhaps this brings an entirely new aspect to “Pray without ceasing”.
A Fantastic Resource
Since writing this post, I discovered a wonderful book that really gets into burden bearing. So much of what Carol Brown wrote in her book I was able to clearly identify with. It is based on scripture and is centered around Jesus Christ.
If you are a burden bearer or if you suspect one of your kids might be, this book will be extremely helpful to you! The Mystery Of Spiritual Sensitivity is one of the best books I have read…and I think the only book I know of on the topic of burden bearing! Available on Amazon (aff link).
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