When The Weight Gets Too Heavy
I don't know about you, but I literally have no upper body strength (unless it involves bringing all of the groceries into the house within one trip). When I was in middle school, I decided to take the fail on the "pull up" test rather than try the awkward attempt in front of all of my classmates. Too be honest, I don't know which I was more afraid of: the physical uncomfortable feeling of the struggle to lift myself up or the humiliation of the weight crushing me in front of others.
There has been several times where I experienced pressure, not just from the type you feel from weights in the gym, but the kind that comes from the stress that some seasons present you with. Maybe as you are reading this, you can relate to a time or two where you felt the weight in life get too heavy?
Did that season make you feel like you were physically carrying a load on your shoulders? Or maybe you were pushing so hard to get through it- that you did not even realize you were burdened? From the obsessive thoughts, being unable to eat, and restless nights to the complete numbness and isolation- this heaviness can show its form in different ways.
That season may have jolted you with an unpredictable situation like losing your job, a relationship, or loved one. Or maybe, that season was a long one filled with pressure from heavy expectations placed upon you, a hard home life, or even feeling like life simply just has not turned out the way you had planned.
Whether you can recognize what type of situation has caused you to feel heavy or you simply feel depressed and are unsure why, the knee-jerk reaction may be to to stress out or to go numb- but how does the Bible direct us to face the weight when it gets too heavy?
(1.) Admit that you are weak
"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I know, I know, admitting that you are weak is the last thing you want to do. A lot of the times, I actually believed I could get through a hard season on my own. I grew up surviving and adapting through some rough scenarios and convinced myself that I didn't need to get anyone else involved. Mostly, because I wanted to be in control since the hard situation thrown at me was out of my control. And I also did not want to feel or appear as weak (remind you of a certain middle-schooler and the pull up bar?).
Let's face it, our "strength" was and will never be enough, that is why God had to send Christ in our place to save us. Thankfully, though we fall short the Lord's strength is glorified in and through our weakness.
Admitting that we are not God and that we are weak is key when the weight of a situation gets too heavy. Honestly, its how we should approach any season-whether we think we can handle it in our own strength or not. All of life should be lived dependent on the Lord for His glory, not the glory of what we can accomplish on our own. As we humble and submit ourselves to the Lord, we will find that He does not call us to carry this weight on our own.
(2.) Find your support system
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ"
If you know me personally, I've probably bragged to you about how awesome my brother is at lifting weights. Instead of accepting defeat of the pull up bar as I did, my brother trained over the years to compete as a professional power lifter. If there is one thing that I've learned from the example of my intentional brother, it's that he never went at lifting weight alone. He always brought a friend as a "spotter", one who would cheer him on, correct him when he was lifting incorrectly, and actually come in and help lift the weight off of him when it got too heavy.
Are you okay with being weak in front of someone you can trust? I know it took me quite a while to be. In my middle school scenario, I was looking to the situation I was in and how I handled it to define me. If you truly believe that Christ took your place at the cross and secured your definition, you no longer have to believe that your weakness or sin defines you (Romans 8:1).
It is so clear throughout the Bible that the support system in which we are called to is the church (Hebrews 10:25, Acts 2:46). You should have a few people in your life who you can confess to and be completely honest with, where you can drop any walls you have built up to protect yourself. This community should be a family that builds each other up and bears one another's burdens (so don't guilt yourself when you fear that your problem is a nuisance to others- we all have them). This community should be one that cries along side you when you are mourning, lifts you up in prayer when you can barely pray yourself, help provide in your needs, and in love tells you to stop coping the wrong way by going numb and immersing yourself in Netflix series after series, ultimately pointing you to what your soul so desperately needs; Jesus.
(3.) Cling to Jesus
"Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."
The enslavement to finding hope in a perfect future filled with financial security and marriage (without making God the first priority) weighed me down when these did not pan out in my timing. The experience of losing both of my grandparents within one year of each other also brought a heaviness. One was brought on by me choosing to be enslaved to an idol, the other was one that I really needed to grieve through. Regardless of what your burden looks like, God calls us to come to Him with it.
When I lost my grandparents this sweet woman in their neighborhood always came around with food and encouraging words. She said "You know you weren't created to carry the burden death leaves, this isn't what God intended when He created us" and she's right, He created us to walk closely with Him, to enjoy and worship Him without sin and death in the picture. Though sin and death are present in this fallen world, He still made a way so that we could draw near to Him when we face heavy burdens.
As we draw close to the Lord in our weakness, through prayer we should be honest, vulnerable, and hand over our burdens. Remember this is a God that knows your every need, He cares, He comforts, He provides rest and a peace that surpasses understanding (Psalm 147:3, Philippians 4:7, Matthew 5:4, 11:28). He may even reveal an idol that has brought upon the feeling of heaviness but He will not bring condemnation. Instead, as we repent of what we were looking to find our hope in, He will replace it with the hope of the Gospel- that though He did not have to save us from our sin He choose to and this season that you are facing will not last forever, He will one day return to wipe away every tear and make all things new (Revelation 21:4).
As the weight that is too heavy draws you closely to Christ, He will sanctify you, molding you to reflect Him more and more. He will provide the strength and grace needed to continue on the good fight. Ultimately, He will use all things including the weakness found in your difficult season for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Even if you may not ever have all of the answers, you will always have Christ to cling to. For no matter what heavy burdens we face with community and Christ, we can respond in worship for the hope secured in the Gospel.