The Bible says to bear one another’s burdens. But what does that actually mean?
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:2 NKJV
We bear one another’s burdens out of love for God. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”Ephesians 4:2 NIV
A Long and Tiring Journey
I love driving solo to Alaska. Long stretches of beautiful, wild country spread out before me. Wildflowers abound in the thick grass next to the highways. And the bears! Some summers I only see a handful, others, I see dozens.
The long drive also gives me plenty of time to think. That summer of 2020 gave me plenty of time to think as I drove from Alaska to Arizona. The pandemic had wrought havoc in my students’ lives, and the new school year loomed. Would the students come back on campus? Or would they suffer doing learning packets at home?
Within miles of crossing into the Yukon Territory, I saw my first bear on the verge. I pulled over, snapped dozens of photos, and continued my journey. Three miles later, I spotted another bear. By the time I pulled into Whitehorse, I had seen (and stopped to photograph) eight bears.
The following day, my bear-sighting bonanza continued. Young bears, old bears, and one brown bear. Twelve more bears in all. I arrived at my hotel much later than I expected due to all the bears.
After seeing 20 bears in two days, I started to wonder if God had some sort of message for me. I woke up the next morning and checked my Bible app for the verse of the day. Galatians 6:2 popped up on the screen.
We Know Why, But How do We Bear One Another’s Burdens?
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Huh. As an introvert, the command to bear one another’s burdens sat uneasily in my soul. Did I have to go out hunting other people’s burdens and offer to bear them?
The year seemed hard enough without having to bear up under the weight of other people’s burdens, too. I mulled the question over in my mind as I continued my journey. The Canadian government had given me limited time to pass through their country, and the bears had set me behind schedule.
Towards the end of the day, I saw something move behind a large clump of fireweed, so I slowed and pulled over. A mama bear and her cub moved out of the forest and started looking for strawberries.
When the mama bear moved further away, the cub stood on its hind legs, and I noticed an unusual white mark on its chest. A white heart. Bear one another’s burdens. A heart. Indeed, God had a message for me.
When I stopped that night, I looked over my photos again and marveled at the clear message. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 NIV
If I wanted to follow the mandate to bear one another’s burdens, all I needed to do was love others. A loving person treats others gently and with humility. Love has patience—especially in uncertain times.
How do you follow the mandate to bear one another’s burdens?