Having an un-shareable burden is the loneliest feeling in the world. Being surrounded by people and feeling that not even one person would ever be able to understand fully the cross that you’ve been asked to bear, that no one would ever be able to really love you if they knew the thoughts that go through your mind when you leave them unguarded is isolating.
There are many examples in the Word of God of people who were called to go through this life bearing their burdens alone, but none stand out to me as much as the prophet Jeremiah.
God chose this shy, insecure man to warn a nation against the impending judgment of the Lord upon their sin. He was going to make enemies of powerful people and would never be well-liked where God placed him. But on top of this, God gave Jeremiah an additional burden: He would never be married or have children.
Jeremiah was never allowed to know the companionship, comfort and delight of marriage. He couldn’t even enjoy friendship with the people around him because God wanted his lonely life to be an object lesson to the nation for what would soon happen to them.
God gave Jeremiah an incredibly hard assignment, and it lasted more than forty years, growing increasingly worse over time. It’s comforting to me to see that Jeremiah was desperately human and struggled with his mission even though there was no doubt what the Lord had called him to do. In Jeremiah chapter 1, we see God affirming his purpose.
“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “But Lord God, I don’t know how to speak. I am only a boy.”
But the Lord said to me, “Don’t say, ‘I am only a boy.’ You must go everywhere I send you, and you must say everything I tell you to say. Don’t be afraid of anyone, because I am with you to protect you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth. He said to me, “See, I am putting my words in your mouth. Today I have put you in charge of nations and kingdoms. You will pull up and tear down, destroy and overthrow, build up and plant.” | Jeremiah 1:5-10
Though Jeremiah knew that God had a special plan for him, over the course of his life he struggled with his un-shareable burden – he was frustrated, fearful, confused and depressed.
Friends, there is so much to be gained from the trials of un-shareable burdens in our lives. If we draw near to the Lord in these times, He will draw near to us. He will show us His heart and reveal Himself to us in ways that we would never be able to see if we were able to bear our burdens alone. In these times of waiting and crying out to God, He is nearer to us than anyone else – if this was the only benefit to be derived from these ordained burdens, it would be enough!
While our souls wait on the Lord, He makes us ready to receive secret messages straight from His heart. The wait is hard and lonely at times, but keep pressing on in faith! He is the Author of your story, and He is good. He looks upon you with affection and love, and while no one on earth may be able to understand what you’re going through, God knows and has a purpose behind it.
“Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross.” | A.W. Tozer
You may be buried under the weight of the cross you’ve been called to bear today, but God has given each of us free will, and we can choose to submit to His plan and remember that He will work it all out for His glory and our good. Take some time and count your blessings in the midst of this difficult time and remember His faithfulness to you over the years.
You may feel alone, but all around you are your brothers and sisters also carrying their crosses. Don’t withdraw from life because you are suffering, allow your suffering to make you sympathetic to those around you. Cheer them on, encourage them to press on in faith.
I wonder if we’ll be able to look back on our earthly lives when we’ve reached our eternal home? I’m sure that when we see how the details of our lives fit into God’s broader story, we’ll be able to see what a privilege it was to carry our particular crosses. Let’s look to that day rather than this one. The day when we, after having endured, will hear the One who loves us say “well done, good and faithful one!”
It will all be worth it for that moment.