How are things going? How are the people that you care about? What was that? How about me you ask? It seems that a deluge of adversity is raining down on many that I know and care for. Each new day brings another conversation, text, message, email or phone call – another dear one sharing their news and asking for prayer support. Disease, marital disharmony, betrayals, relationship failures, worrisome decisions, unfair circumstances and wayward children.
Ask my husband and he’ll tell you that I carry a heavy burden for those that are dear to me. I will go to war with my prayers. I’m relentless until the Lord releases me. I’ll wake up and pray. When I’m alone at home, I’m praying. One of my favorite times to pray is when I’m alone in my car. Pray without ceasing, He says – no kidding. Recently, bearing the weight, wore me out. I found myself in a minor health crisis – an outbreak of shingles. I imagine that stress along with a weakened immune system, allowed the sleeping virus to wake up.
Shingles are painful and vile. I stayed home for two weeks, which was a blessing and a curse. I suddenly had more time to sleep and rest, but the quiet in my days left my mind more time to think. I’m a thinker – can’t seem to shut my thinker off sometimes. The extra time to think, became time to obsess, and the burdens that I felt for others became overwhelming. It snuck up on me too. I felt crushed and I couldn’t even put together a cohesive thought and pray. I sat on the floor of my bedroom and cried as the thoughts raced, and then it all changed in a moment. For the first time in all of my years, I truly understood what it meant to have the Holy Spirit intercede and make sense of my groanings. I didn’t recite a list to the Lord – I simply thought of the person and the circumstance.
What was happening here? God was teaching me. He was teaching me to look up and release the burden to Him. I can’t walk and hold onto my burden while I am looking up at Him. If I try to, I stumble and fall. There’s a fine line. We are to carry the burdens of others, but we are not to retain them. We are to hand them over to the only One who has shoulders that are broad and strong enough. The only One who can bring lasting healing and change.
What have I learned? To boil it down – I can make anything a curse when I attempt to do it in my own power and in my own way. God brought me to the end of myself. My own strength was exhausted – literally. Resting became a necessity, and in His gracious mercy, He taught me to look up. Being self-protective isn’t the answer – looking up is the answer. I’m looking up a lot more these days, and I’m not letting the weight of the burdens separate me from the power that my Father has over them.