When someone comes to a place in life where they realize there is an extremely difficult journey ahead, it can be overwhelming. Maybe it’s the life changing phone call. Or maybe it’s the blip on the screen that isn’t beating. Perhaps it’s the call into the boss’ office that has them calling their spouse in tears and unemployment. Maybe it’s the broken engagement or no prospects at all. Maybe it’s the newborn with colic or the teenager stuck in depression. Maybe it’s the wayward family member or the drama next door. Whatever the arrival point is with the view of a difficult journey ahead, it’s overwhelming, isn’t it?
When The Load is Extra Heavy…
Recently, I was in New York City. My 3 year old son and I tagged along on my husband’s business trip. I tried to brace myself beforehand and prepare for all sorts of scenarios to be sure we were making the wisest choices and well prepared for navigating one of the busiest cities on earth. Did you know that every year 1.7 billion people travel through New York City’s Subway?! That’s upwards of 1/7th of the world’s population! Well, given that I would be taking my toddler throughout the city all by myself while my husband was in meetings, I insisted on bringing our sturdiest stroller so that I could push him around and also have a storage compartment for the things we needed to bring on our adventures just in case. You know…rain jackets, an umbrella, plenty of snacks and water, a first aid kit, a change of clothes, wipes… nothing much, but quite a bit to carry if I had to also sometimes carry his 35 pound little self as well. This stroller bit was a good idea. Except for one thing… most of the elevators for the Subway stations that even had them were out of order. I knew my journey around the city with a toddler would not be easy, but I didn’t know how difficult it would be without those elevators.
I am a maximizer, though, and did not want to miss out on the good that was to be experienced in the midst of a difficult journey. Even still, I had moments of feeling completely overwhelmed. Truth be told, my body (with after effects of a pelvic stress fracture from birth 3 years ago) is still paying for all the walking more than I had planned due to all of these troubles.
One of the toughest parts of the trip came after I thought I’d hacked the problem by finding a sidewalk access elevator down to the platform I needed at Grand Central Station. I got on with the biggest smile. And then, I was spit out into the hustle and bustle of figuring out if I needed to go Uptown or Downtown. Uptown. That’s what I needed. Strangely, even though I live in the suburbs, I get more lost driving around my own town than I do navigating a city with transportation based on a grid. So I had the direction figured out. I just didn’t have what I needed to get there because you guessed it, the next elevator was out. So was the escalator I brought myself to peace with dangling ourselves on.
You Can Help Someone Keep Going
If I was to keep going on our journey, I had to adapt. Really, I had no choice because one way or another, we could not stay stuck down in that hot underground space for long. So, I pulled my 3 year old out of the stroller, instructed him in the strictest terms to hold the rail and go very slowly down the steps, and I carried the stroller and our stuff down while holding his other hand and praying that no one would rush up behind us and cause us to fall. We got to the bottom of the one passageway (a bum was planted at the bottom of the other staircase) and I strapped my son back in the stroller to actually get on the Subway train that we needed. We got off and I snapped a picture of us beside the Subway sign of the stop where we arrived. This moment of victory just had to be documented, if for no one else but me, to remind me of how God helped us through those tough moments.
I found the handicap exit and rolled out, only to find there were no elevators, yet again. I pressed the help intercom button to confirm and through broken transmissions, realized with a sinking heart, that my journey was about to get even more difficult. I had two steep flights of stairs to go up with the stroller behind me and my toddler beside me. I didn’t have much energy left inside of me and nearly burst into tears, but mustered all the strength, courage, and command that I could to do what was required of me. There was a lady standing behind me from India. She was waiting to use the intercom as well and asked if I was done. I threw my hands up in the air and said, “I guess,” with a quiet, defeated voice, and then went to the next stage of my journey.
Then, I noticed that the stroller that was banging against the back of my knees, while going up those stairs, felt a little lighter. I heard a voice through broken English saying, “Let me help you carry this.” And then it got even lighter. I looked to my left and it was the woman’s husband, helping across the rail to carry it as well. I was in the most awkward position and it was still hard and still scary… But It.Was.Lighter.
I got to the top of the stairs and strapped my boy quickly in the stroller. The woman and man told me to have a nice day and I thanked them profusely. And then, I almost lost all the tears that I’d been sucking in during this entire journey.
I saw it. I saw the visual that God was letting me live of what it means to a weary soul to help lift a burden.
Help Someone’s Load Get Lighter
When life gets hard and we can tell the journey is going to be full of difficulties, there are few instances of greater comfort in the moment than when someone comes along and helps lift the load. Bonus points if such help is completely unexpected and comes out of nowhere. These little actions help remind the weary that it won’t always be this way if Christ is the ultimate reward of their journey.
I thought about all of the times throughout my life’s journey I’ve experienced this. It’s caused me to experience the family of God and the presence of Jesus in some of the most refreshing, nurturing, comforting ways possible.
So, I ask you today: who can you come up behind or beside and help lift the load?
God deploys His people to help lift up the discouraged.
It could make all the difference in their journey to help keep them going and to give them the boost of encouragement, compassion, and strength to make it to the next stage of the difficult road before them.
How can you make what’s extra heavy noticeably lighter for someone on a difficult journey?
Share the burden and watch how God shares the blessing.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
What about you? Have you experienced the blessing of someone helping make your burden lighter? Share about it in the comments below.