Living in a port city, we see ships come and go daily. As they enter the harbor from the Atlantic Ocean, I never tire of watching them slowly slip through the water laden down with containers bearing everything from electronics, potato chips, grain, to vehicles. I wonder how far they have travelled, how long the crew has been away from home, or what stormy seas they encountered along the way. Often ships lose containers in rough seas resulting in the loss of millions of dollars worth of goods.
Sometimes I will go down to the container pier to watch ships being unloaded and re-loaded. It’s fascinating to observe the massive cranes picking up huge containers and transferring them from ship to shore. There’s a lot of math and physics that go into the process of loading and it must be properly done to ensure containers have the best chance of arriving safely at their destination.
I learned that an old nautical term for tonnage, the calculation of the ship’s cargo carrying capacity, is “burthen”.i Our modern day word “burden” is derived from this ancient term. I think this is an interesting way to describe a ship’s load as it has applications for our life. The load must be balanced according to the size and type of the ship. Often this is not followed correctly with devastating results. The Internet is full of articles documenting such incidents due to proper protocol not being followed.
This past couple of weeks, I have felt very burdened for those close to me. My cousin has been very ill recovering from major surgery and while we pray daily for God to preserve his life, it is hard not to worry. My neighbor’s mom entered hospital in the last stages of cancer and my heart is heavy for them. On Monday we received word that the mother-in-law of my friend and fellow leader in our women’s ministry at church had died. The same day, my husband learned his friend and co-worker had lost his wife to a battle with cancer. I felt like a deflated balloon and the burden felt too much to bear. But I knew what I needed to do in order to prevent myself from collapsing under the weight of my emotions.
- First, I went to my God of all comfort and laid it all out before Him. As I prayed for each situation, I praised Him for who He is and how He is working in the lives of the individuals concerned. The psalmist said, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)
- Second, I surrounded myself with my women friends and drew strength and encouragement from them. Their bear hugs and comforting words lifted my spirit and made my burden lighter. As the apostle Paul said, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
- Third, feeling physically exhausted and emotionally bereft I gave in to my body, which was crying out for sleep. With that rest and a good night’s sleep, I felt much better and able to offer my support at two funerals. Jesus said,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
Only He can satisfy;
Every burden becomes a blessing,
When I know my Lord is nigh.”ii
My husband’s co-worker and friend sang this chorus at his wife’s funeral on Friday. What a testimony to the love and grace of God! We do have hope in Jesus and will one day be reunited with our loved ones who placed their faith in Him. I came home feeling uplifted, energized, and full of peace.
Praise God that He does turn our burdens into blessings!
Until next time,