Read: 1 Samuel 19:1-10; Proverbs 12:25; Proverbs 11:25; Philippians 4:10-19
A friend who has attended the church for many years is moving this week. Several people have been going to her house to help with packing and other tasks that need to be done. We will miss Joni, but she is only moving about 60 miles away; so, we should be able to see her if she comes back here or when we go to Rapid City. Maybe lunch?
While talking with a lady who had been helping with Joni's packing, I remembered a time when I was filling boxes. No, not for someone else, but for my husband and I. I really believed I did a downright good job with one of the big boxes. I filled it with books, and I even wedged items into all the little nooks. Perhaps a career as a professional box packer? Alas, No. That feeling didn't last very long. The box, although utilized to the max, was too full and needed to be lightened for the sake of both the box and the one who would have to carry it.
Don't each of us have a box that we carry around? Its heaviness fluctuates depending on our circumstances. Sometimes, it feels light and manageable, but during other seasons, we long for someone to lighten the load. The circumstances that we face needn't be earth shattering. It might simply be that the amount of little challenges have filled in every nook, making it difficult to keep things in balance. How can we lighten one another's boxes? After all, we have boxes of our own to haul around.
Let's begin by looking into David's life so we can be reminded of Jonathan, a treasured friend who lightened David's box by being loyal even when it hurt. In 1 Samuel 19:1-10, we read about King Saul's rage, David's vulnerability and Jonathan's loyalty. Jonathan's words on David's behalf were the reason his father lashed out against him. Even though Jonathan boldly and honestly spoke about David to his father, Saul's fury wasn't assuaged. Saul did not accept the fact that David would be the next king, and his anger boiled over on to Jonathan. Therefore, in spite of Jonathan's tenacious love, David had to run. Yet, having someone like Jonathan in his corner surely made David's difficult circumstances a bit lighter.
Often people we care about face challenges we can't change. Like Jonathan though, even if we can't do anything to change what someone is facing, we can let them know we are standing with them. If others are gossiping and repeating things that are not true, we can speak up for our friend. Even doing that will lighten his load.
Let's look next into Proverbs 11:25, where we are reminded that when we reach out to lighten someone's load, our own burden also is eased. There is joy in taking our eyes off the heaviness we carry and instead, focusing on someone else. It could come in the form of prayer or a kind word, Proverbs 12:25. It might be a text or a card that we send, but God has designed us so that giving refreshment to someone boomerangs back upon us. A double blessing.
Let's look next into Paul's life. In Philippians 4:10-19, we read that the apostle was blessed by the generosity of the Philippians on several occasions. Even though Paul had learned to get along in all circumstances, he was thankful for their gifts. They had lightened Paul's load, and Paul wanted them to know that their doing so was a sweet fragrant offering that was pleasing to God. Another double blessing. Received once again by both giver and recipient.
Sometimes, people say that we shouldn't simply write a check. I understand what they are saying. When the Holy Spirit leads, and we have the ability to do so, we can lighten loads with our own hands and strength. Yet, we can't all go. At times like this, sharing by giving a financial gift can help to ease many heavy loads. What a precious burden lifter a Bible in a man's own language can be. There he might learn about the God Who loves him so much that He sent a Savior, John 3:16.
What a precious burden can be lifted by a sand filter or a Jesus well. Though we might not be able to talk with the recipients of these gifts or share their excitement at having clean water, we can be assured that we helped lighten the loads people are carrying. Is life hard for them, even with these gifts? Yes, but the box is lighter for them, easier to carry. Of course, there are many ways we can lighten someone's burden. May the Lord show us whom we can help each day.
Lord, Thank You for the times You have used Joni here to lighten loads. Thank You that You have people where she is going to help her when she needs it. Also thank You for the refreshment she will give others when their loads weigh them down. We praise You Lord for how You intertwine lives and how You bore our heaviest burden, sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21.