Galatians 6:1-2 (NKJV):
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
These verses express the idea that there is a burden that we, as believers, can share. If we see a brother or sister fall under a heavy burden, we can come along side of that person and offer assistance in bearing that burden. There is, however, a burden that every believer must bear alone. This truth is revealed in Galatians 6:5 which indicates: “For every man shall bear his own burden.”
In thinking on these two verses, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975. During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.
On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that everyone else’s load was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is lyrically described as “a burden bearer and heavy load sharer.” As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord and all that he gladly bore on my behalf, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrive at our destination in a short time. That experience was the inspiration for this poem:
The Burden Bearer
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,
When I lay my burden down.
I stumbled up the rugged road;
I almost fell beneath the load
And spurned the pain inside my head,
Recalling words of one who said
“Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”
The yoke I bear cannot compare
With all he took upon Himself:
All sins, disease, and guilt, despair
That I could not forebear myself.
His burden was not made of wood,
His cross beyond all words can name.
Have I resisted unto blood?
Could I for joy endure such shame?
From a glimpse into his face
I’m strengthened by a second wind;
My mind’s renewed to keep the pace
The load is lightened by my friend.
I feel better, so much better
since I laid my burden down.
The epigraph or short intro to the poem as well as the closing stanza are lyrics from an old gospel song that I recall my childhood days, recorded here by the Staple Singers. The album cover features the 15th Century painting entitled “The Adoration of the Lamb” by Hubert and Jan van Eyck.
The Verse of the Day and my experience occurring 40 years ago remind me of this: “I am so glad that Jesus Christ is our Burden Bearer.”