I feel quite overloaded this week. The sermon didn't suit me at all, but if I'm honest, it's my own fault.
We make the sermon appointments many weeks in advance, there's no other way, and of course you often don't know how much stress you'll have in the week before the sermon. And this week I had something every evening and could only start on Saturday, yesterday, with the sermon.
Normally a week's preparation is enough for me, but my mistake this time was that I should have started a little earlier, because a fortnight ago I knew it was going to be a stressful week and before that I would have had enough time to prepare in a relaxed way.
Well, my mistake, but that's how I came to the topic of "burden" quite naturally.
By the way, I also know this term in my professional environment, in IT.
When a system is under load, it is really busy. For example, if you imagine an online video service as one computer and half of Germany watches a film there in the evening, then this computer is really busy. In reality, of course, there are many computers sharing the load.
There is also the so-called load test. If, for example, we have developed a new programme whose parts run on different computers, then it is interesting to know how the programme behaves under load. We then write tests that load the new programme with many requests in a short time to see what happens.
You can perhaps compare the purpose of the whole thing with a car. If you only test a new car on a straight test track in the factory, you don't yet know how it will behave on a narrow, winding mountain road.
And it's the same in software development. You simulate countless users and requests and try to overload the system. It's called a smoke test, it's supposed to smoke. We know this from machines: if it smokes, then you've overdone it.
Such scenarios usually happen unexpectedly when the programme is in production, that is, when it is used in reality by real users. And you want to know as much as possible about such scenarios in advance, so that you can perhaps prevent them better or at least react better.
But today we don't want to talk about IT, but about us humans. Maybe one of you is already fuming because you feel like you're under constant strain.
We find a few things in the Bible about the topic of "burden", e.g. in Galatians 6:5; NGÜ
Other Bible translations write here (ELB):
or also more modern (NEÜ):
"Burden", "burden", "responsibility", the words actually express the same thing, but with a different emphasis. "Burden" and "load" sound rather negative, quasi "burdensome", while "responsibility" sounds rather neutral, even more like a challenge.
But the verse definitely expresses that everyone has their own personal burden and, I interpret it that way, also feels this burden personally, quite individually.
This is also very clear in the verses before, Galatians 6:3,4; NL:
You can always find people who are better off and you can always find people who are worse off.
These two verses express a bit of the balancing act we find ourselves in. On the one hand, one feels what one feels, one is perhaps really overburdened, one has the feeling that one is fuming, and on the other hand, one's own problems are not more important than those of others. That is, in addition to one's own state of mind, one must always take the perspective of others without comparing oneself.
Because in the verse before (we are going backwards here today) it says (Galatians 6:2; NEÜ):
So it is right, without comparing ourselves, to see the burdens of the other and to carry them with us, and this also includes that we share our own burdens in some way.
How much do burdens take up in our lives?
Psalm 90:10 (New Testament) says:
I can't really share this verse from the Bible. The past week was very stressful, but I can't say that the past 55 years were mostly just trouble and burden.
But of course that is also my own personal feeling.
Comparing is stupid
How do we deal with the burden? Comparing is stupid, we have already learned that. But you can't always really free yourself from it.
There is an interesting parable from Jesus where workers are hired for a day's work in a vineyard, some early in the morning, others just before closing time, and with all of them the vineyard owner has negotiated the same wage, a denarius. This parable is worth a sermon of its own, but I want to get at the point of view that those who carried the burden of the whole day wanted more afterwards when they saw those who worked only briefly getting the same.
In the real world of work, of course, this is somehow unfair and would probably lead to most workers not reporting until the afternoon the next day.
But this parable has a deeper meaning. This day's wage was appropriate, was good, but because the other one got even more, the first worker was dissatisfied. Here we have again: comparing is stupid.
And I also see another meaning here: more load does not mean more pay. In a haulage company that is probably the case, but in the Christian life you do not get more pay if you carry more loads. On the contrary, the expectation of this, this thinking in itself is wrong for me. It contradicts charity.
An example from a text of the law in Exodus 23:5; NL:
Here you see empathy, compassion, with the enemy and the enemy's donkey. If you take a calculating approach here, you would rather have posted the picture of the collapsed donkey on Facebook. In doing so, I could have harmed my enemy and gained an advantage.
Because my enemy is also trying to harm me, otherwise he wouldn't be my enemy.
But that is not the right way. Calculation and charity do not go together.
Dealing with the burden
Let us return to the question: How does one deal with the burden?
There is this verse from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:34, which seems relaxed.
Other translations write "plague" or "evil" here instead of "burden". Hopefully it is not always that bad.
At first glance, this verse sounds as if one should always live into the day without a plan; then I would have done everything right. But it doesn't feel that way.
But you also have to see this verse in context and the passage begins with the concern for food, drink and clothing, that is, the concern for basic needs.
And here we can trust that God will provide for us, every day. We can then plan and build our lives on this basis.
The burdens of each day will not disappear, but it is already helpful if the basis of our life is solidified in Jesus Christ. God will provide for us.
Nevertheless, we have to deal with our burdens.
Handing over / sharing tasks
Some burdens are certainly our own fault. For example, if you take on too many tasks, it can really wear you down.
A good example of this can be found in the Old Testament, in Exodus 18:13-27, where it is described how Moses led the people of Israel at that time. In addition, he had to take over the administration of justice and took care of every case personally.
His father-in-law Jittro had visited him at that time and commented as follows:
He then recommends that he delegate tasks and appoint judges:
This includes trusting others to be able to do the work as well.
Handing over tasks, sharing, trusting that others also have good ideas, that others also care about the community, that is the right approach.
And of course, then as now, the (permanent) mission applies to every Christian (Luke 10:2; NEÜ):
There are other ways in which one can cause oneself unnecessary burdens. One of them is bitterness (Hebrews 12:15, NL).
This is true for a group of people, but it is also true for me personally. Cultivated bitterness will weigh you down in the long run and only forgiveness will help you out of it. Of course, this does not mean repressing bad experiences or sweeping them under the carpet, nor does it necessarily mean reconciliation. That would be nice, but it doesn't always work.
Another point is to discover the Sabbath in a certain form for oneself.
In Jeremiah 17:22; LUT there is a Sabbath commandment for the people of Israel:
For us Christians, the Sabbath no longer applies in this way (that would also be a sermon topic of its own), but take it for granted that you will not carry any burdens on one day of the week. Usually this is Sunday for us. This afternoon the work computer stays off, the files in the bag and you do something that you would have liked to do anyway. No matter what, just leave your loads. They'll be back tomorrow anyway.
A few weeks ago I made a xylophone out of wood. I just felt like it. It's hanging on the wall now, but it was fun to build it.
Of course, you can't always leave everything, some people have to work on Sundays. But find a time when you leave the burdens aside and do something for yourself.
The burden of sinThere is another burden that we place on ourselves. This is often the cause of all burdens, the burden of sins.
A guilty conscience is a fakir pillow.
Actually, the saying goes: a good conscience is a gentle resting pillow.
Of course we sin every day, sometimes intentionally, hopefully more often unintentionally, sometimes more seriously, sometimes less seriously.
And in the process, we often do things that other people can justifiably hold against us.
But we Christians know where to put it.
Romans 11:27 (NT) says it so well:
If we have decided for Jesus Christ, then we are in this covenant and can always, if necessary, bring our burden of sin to him and be relieved.
And that changes us. And we can clear up what is rightly laid to our charge by others and ask for forgiveness.
Burden through othersLet us come to another point that often comes to mind first when we feel burdens.
Someone else has done something that burdens me. The other person is to blame. Often, when we feel burdened, an index finger goes up inwardly, where we already point to the guilty party.
And of course, often enough, others are to blame for our problems. In the Old Testament, for example, we often find incidents where another people causes trouble for Israel, burdens it. And God helps when Israel turns to him.
We too can be burdened by others, for example when we become victims of crime, when we are bullied, and so on. Everyone has certainly experienced enough of this.
The only thing that really helps here is to forgive the offender. As I said, this does not mean sweeping things under the carpet or not reporting crimes. You have to decide that for yourself individually. But one has to come to peace with God, possibly after a long painful phase.
However, it is not always so easy to blame others for one's own burden. It is not uncommon for those involved in the burden to have different ideas about who is to blame. Humility is indeed called for here.
I would like to illustrate this with a short example (Proverbs 27:3; NEÜ):
Who is the fool now, and who is the one who has the burden?
The day before yesterday, we had also briefly talked about the Dunning-Kruger effect. This effect describes the cognitive distortion in the self-image of incompetent people to overestimate their own knowledge and ability. (I couldn't have made this sentence myself, it's copied from Wikipedia).
If you plot this as a curve, the result is Mount "Stupid".
If you know a little bit, then you quickly think you are an expert and express yourself as such. Then you are on top of Mount Stupid. If you then learn more, you eventually understand that you still have a lot to learn and you become more humble and cautious.
We have probably all been to the top of this mountain several times.
So, stupidity from others can be a big burden, but we should be careful and humble about who is the stupid one in the specific case.
HelpSo the last point is the help we can get.
The help is announced in the Old Testament, e.g. in Psalm 68:20:
Of course, one cannot get rid of the burdens, but God carries them.
Jesus Christ also emphasises this in the well-known passage in Matthew 11, 28-30; NL:
We find help in Jesus. He carries with us and he helps us.
And if that is not enough comfort for us, as Christians we still have the ultimate promise in 2 Corinthians 4:17; NL:
To sum up.
- Burden is something very personally felt and can of course be burdensome.
- Without comparing, it is important that we help each other with our burdens, without expectation of reward, but only out of charity.
- One can lessen one's own burden, for example, by sharing tasks and working together on tasks instead of alone .
- Cultivated bitterness is a burden that can be laid
- through forgiveness. Every now
- and then one should put aside the burden and do something for oneself.
- Of course, sin also creates burden, but through the covenant with Jesus he will take away the burden of sins from us.
- Others can also burden us, perhaps not as often as we imagine .
- But let us be humble in our assessment of the situation. And perhaps the knowledge of the Dunning-Kruger effect will also make us a little humbler.
- We get help from Jesus, who gives us rest with our burdens, helps us and teaches us that the burdens become lighter because he shares them.
- And an immeasurably great glory awaits us Christians that will last forever