It all began when we decided to lay down the weight of our sin, tearing that pride apart, and receive Jesus’ victory over it at the cross. But it doesn’t stop there. As we are then being continually changed by grace, our part is to continually lay down every part of us that’s attached in this world. It’s not immediate but we have the lifetime of a process.
The Right and Wrong Burden
I know how easy it is to carry the burden that gets heavier and hurt and break us more (funny, but it’s the truth about us). We will still have those because we’re still in this world after all. The neglect that people make us feel, the disappointments from them and from ourselves, the financial problems, issues at work, or the dilemma you’re facing about academics, the vague picture of tomorrow, our wants that we cannot achieve. It’s easy to let yourself dwell on the negative feelings brought by those problems because that’s just how you’re feeling. They’re your problems after all. Sometimes, we even bring the baggage unto the next season that we’re supposed to fully enjoy with the Lord, but we can’t because how can we jump up and dance for joy when we’re holding and carrying the heavy baggage of the past?
Jesus said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
While emotions demand to be felt, they’re meant to be laid down. It doesn’t mean that you should just dismiss the problems. It means to surrender the ungodly ways and thoughts (which might be triggered by our own feelings and emotions) about those problems.
Bad striving, earthly toiling, and worldly solutions (which will I call the worldly or wrong burden here) aren’t meant for you to carry until you win over your problems. They are meant to be brought and laid down at Jesus’ feet so that He can give you the “win” over it.
And He tells us how to do it. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
One important reason why Jesus wants our worldly burdens be surrendered is for us to be able to lift and carry His burden.
And because it is a spiritual burden, it doesn’t follow the ways of this world. The right burden doesn’t get heavier, rather, it is easy and light, which makes it pleasing and joyful for us to carry.
You’ll know which one is the Lord’s. If it’s heavy and weighing you down, it’s probably the one you should release and surrender to God.
The right burden is something that partakes a role for God’s eternal glory. It’s the burden of laying down one’s life everyday; the burden of taking up one’s cross daily; the burden of letting go and letting God, and thinking about others more than yourself.
This means to live each day with the new life that we’ve been given; to deny the wishes of the flesh to obey Christ; to dismiss our earthly knowledge and let God’s wisdom decide for us; to work with excellence; to fight for righteousness and flee from sin; to extend grace to difficult people (including yourself) no matter how hard it is; to share and show love to your neighbors; to be selfless, to fight for, and to help the poor, the oppressed, and the unprivileged.
To choose what God wants instead of ours, which is summarized in two commands:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Learning From Jesus
You might be thinking that Jesus’ burden is quite burdensome, even with only two commands. Even I myself finds it hard, honestly. It seems heavier to carry. It’s just too big of a responsibility for us, because it’s actually easier to just choose yourself and follow what you want, right? (Yet again, putting yourself above anybody else is a burden that gets heavier because even your wants today can destroy you tomorrow.)
And Jesus knows that we’ll think that way, He knows that we’d find it hard and difficult. That’s why He said, “. . . learn from me“.
We can’t do it on our own. Carrying it carelessly and ignorantly is like spending your hard earned money to buy a phone without knowing how to use it—everything will go to waste. Jesus assures us that He has the answers on how to do it. He is our manual, our guide, in carrying His burden, to which His ministry on Earth speaks what it means to be a Christian.
Only by learning from Someone who is spiritual will then make us spiritual.
We can learn from Him because He first did it. He went down from Heaven—His safe place—to carry His cross because of love. He first carried His burden to Calvary to fight for us, protect us, and save us from the oppression of sin. He didn’t stop on the road because He loves us and He hates sin so much. He hates injustice, oppression, racism, and nothing can defeat those sins and heal the hurting people other than love—His eternal love.
And we use that love to help others.
One Burden We Can Carry Today
In this dreadful season that we are living in today, amidst and aside from the pandemic, oppression, racism, injustice, and threat even from our own government are rising and spreading. It’s as if consuming the world with fear, anxiety, and pain.
Here is one burden that Jesus want’s us to carry—His compassion.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
As Christians, we know that there is a loud and urgent call for us to carry the right burden. To spread the Gospel, be selfless, send a helping hand by giving, and “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute, speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 8-9)
People don’t need us to remain quiet because holding back our voices now means siding with the enemy. It’s not enough that we’re not doing the bad things, we have to do the good things, demonstrating the love of Christ.
Pray boldly, inform loudly, give generously. People need to know that we got their back because we are the Jesus in the present times. Just like how Jesus defended the likes of them before, we are to do the same now. Carrying the right burden now is breaking our bubble of comfort created by our privileges. It’s time to let our voices be amplified to help and protect others. It’s time to go our from our safe zone and be where Jesus is—on the side with least.
Jesus doesn’t assure us that it’s going to be safe. No, carrying His burden isn’t safe at all, in the worldly sense. It will never guarantee your safety physically, financially, emotionally. Actually, it is messy and risky. You might worry what will be left from you when you give out everything you have.
Staying in that bubble of comfort and privilege might guarantee you comfort and temporary safety, but there will never be rest because Jesus isn’t there; only by coming to God will you receive the rest that He offers. Even when you stay there in your bubble, you will continually face trials and tribulations because that’s just how this world works, that’s why Jesus tells us to come to Him in the first place.
When we choose to follow Him and stay with Him, He will sustain and He will secure us, providing everything we ever needed. Walking in a fearful place with God is better than staying in the safe place with out Him, because that safe space isn’t even guaranteed to remain safe.
Besides, what’s there to worry about earthly safety when we already have eternal safety in heaven? What’s holding us back to give up our temporary shelter to show others that there is a God who is our eternal shelter?
The choices are really simple: (a) stay there, carry the heavy burden, and face your trials anyway without God, or, (b) go out, carry Jesus’ easy and light burden, and face those trials together with Him.
No doubt the latter is better.
Carrying this burden is not immediate, not a one time subscription. Many times we find ourselves just trying to get back to the day before we know God because we failed. But Jesus said that He is “gentle and lowly in heart“.
When He told us His command, He doesn’t expect us to carry His burden perfectly, that’s why there’s a process of learning from Him everyday. That’s why He’s offering His help and we need Him. He is patient when with our mistakes. He wants us to go through the process of change. He is not aggressive nor demanding. He helps when you stumble. He doesn’t tell you the condemning words “I told you, so” but rather welcome you again with love and acceptance every time you choose to live in repentance and faith. He is good and His loving kindness is better than life (Psalm 63:3).
Maybe it’s time to do the trade. Give Jesus the wrong, heavy burden, and He will give you the right one, His easy and light burden. It comes with rest.