Saturday, 26 May 2012
BURDEN OF JOY
Who wants to have a burden when we can have blessing? But how about a burden which brings joy?
We are often reminded that calling, vision, mission and passion are important for effective ministry. But how about having a burden?
When news reached Nehemiah’s ears that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, he was sad and burdened.
That’s because he recognised that it was an affront to God’s glory to leave the walls in a state of neglect.
We can surmise that must have been walking close to God to discern His will. Though he was just a cupbearer, he prayed that he might be an instrument to fulfill God’s plan.
God has given each of us special gifts and talents – whether it is natural or spiritual. And the Holy Spirit shows us that these talents He has endowed us with should be used to meet a specific need (or needs).
If we pray for God to show us His will, over time He will confirm it to us – by placing in us a burden for a particular area of ministry, be it teaching, witnessing or social work (Proverbs 3:5-6).
It is a positive and constructive burden – just like a pregnant mum carries a child for nine months in her womb.
Sometimes a burden can be very discomforting. God called Jeremiah to preach an unpopular message – that God’s judgment will befall God’s people unless they repent. Because it was a hard message which they were not willing to hear, much less accept, he had an unenviable job.
But if I (Jeremiah) say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot (Jeremiah 20:9).
Apart from morning sickness early in pregnancy, mothers feel the strain in the back as the baby’s weight increases. But the moment she thinks of the baby’s arrival, the anticipated joy lifts the burdens away.
Christ endured the shame and agony of the cross because He envisioned the joy that would be His when many, many lost souls would be reconciled to God through his sacrificial death.
This is the kind of burden God would have us carry. It involves self-denial and sacrifice. It often means moving out of our comfort zone. It may even mean persecution.
But we do not need to carry this burden alone. It seems paradoxical that Jesus says His yoke is easy and we’re to let Him to share our burden:
“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).
Now, we do not have to go around with long faces all day just because we’re carrying God’s burden. But when nobody watches, in our prayer closet, the burden consumes us as we cry out to God.
As we rejoice in what He has already accomplished in our lives, we want to experience more and more of His glory. We want to move to the next level as He moves in strange and miraculous ways.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy (Psalm 126:5).