“Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them. Call those to mind who are afflicted, as if you are the people who wear their bodies.”
(Hebrews 13:3 Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
Everyone was anxious. As soon as the wheels touched down, they had their phones out calling those who were waiting or depending on their arrival, and I don’t think anyone else noticed the scene playing out through the window to the right of our plane as we taxied to the gate. Our flight had taken off late, which changed everyone’s plans.
The scene to the right told me that plans for the grieving onlookers had recently changed too, and nothing would ever be the same again.
The small crowd gathered there stood motionless, as if statues rooted to the ground. My second glance confirmed my first, and time, only a few hundred yards away stood still for a military family whose loved one lay there in a coffin, draped in red, white and blue.
There were no banners, no streamers or posters saying “Welcome Home.” No trumpets or drums. There weren’t any balloons. No confetti. No T.V. cameras. No parade.
The grieving onlookers held their united breath with the Honor Guards’ salute, and with the “at-ease” released them. The contrast was stark between the up-right military and bent-over civilians, but I could feel the common thickness of their pain even as we passed out of the moment’s view. The burden of it lingered and decided to stay, but that’s ok, because the comfort God has given me, makes room for another’s without yanking out my own grief, throwing it on the pavement and backing over it. Think of it like a sponge. God soaks up the saturated mass of my strain and sorrow; the part that yields no good fruit, places the burden of it on Jesus, which then leaves my “sponge” able to soak in another’s burden, which is really a gift to us both!
The Psalmist tells us: “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22 NASB) At the same improbable time, the Love of Christ also asks us to “bear one another’s burdens…” because Love always “fulfills” or “fills-full” what is lacking in us, and in others. (Gal. 6:2)
The casting of one’s burden must be done before one can “bear” another’s. In Psalm 55, “burden” means “thy gift.” It seems as though the possibility of viewing a burden as a gift must be pre-empted by the casting of it into His care. Then the capacity and willingness to take on someones else’s gift of “burden” is born.
In the book of Revelation we are told: “Blessed is the one who watches and keeps his clothes ready.” (Rev. 16:15b) Our wardrobe? We are to put on:
“… the armor of light”*
“… the Lord Jesus Christ”*
“… the new man”*
“… the whole armor of God”*
“… tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering”*
“… the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”*
And… we are to “call to mind those who are afflicted, as if [we] are the people who wear their bodies.” What an ensemble!
There will come a time, after you have wept and grieved, that you come across someone else who is hurting.
Keep your clothes ready.
Romans 13:14; Col. 3:27*
1 Thes. 5:8*