I had a friend in Tennessee who, 90% of the time, had something funny or outrageous to say. He had a gift of laughter that kept us in good spirits. But that other 10% of the time he was profound and wise, and it was obvious that God’s hand was on his life and his tongue. One day we were talking about allowing people to purchase meals for us. He was uncomfortable with this, knowing he could pay his own way and not be a burden on people. One day, a friend wanted to buy him a soft drink, and he refused. God immediately spoke to him and asked him why he wouldn’t allow himself to be blessed. God reminded him of the numerous times he had done the same thing for people and then asked him why he was the only one who could be a blessing in this way. He convicted him about stealing people’s harvest by not allowing them to sow a seed in treating him to a meal or even a simple soft drink. God instructed him to lay down his pride and stop thinking that letting people bless him meant he was a burden. What a revelation!
Talking recently to a friend in Florida brought back memories of this conversation. She was not feeling well, and a friend offered to go the store for her and purchase some items she needed. She adamantly refused, saying it was something she could get out and do eventually when she felt better. The friend refused to take no for an answer and brought the needed items to her house. When speaking to my friend, she said she felt guilty about being a burden to her friend. I recounted the above conversation to her and how God asked my friend to change his thinking. This was revelation to her. She hadn’t thought about allowing people to sow seeds of kindness into her life or to receive God’s goodness through people’s help. She also hadn’t realized that she was reaping the harvest of being a blessing to others.
Why are we set against allowing people to help us? Why do we consider it charity instead of friendship when people want to assist us in troubles or support us in trials? With each friend above, it was imprinted deeper onto my heart that God has placed friends and family into our life as a support system. They are there to encourage, uplift, guide, and even help us as we face the challenges of life. God says this repeatedly in scripture, especially in the New Testament through Paul’s epistles (love one another, be affection to one another, receive one another, admonish one another, serve one another, forgive one another, comfort one another, edify one another, speak truth to one another, pray for one another, be compassionate toward one another, be hospitable to one another, fellowship with one another). So why do we question Him and them otherwise?
God says we need to change our thinking from being a burden to being a blessed child of God. But how do we do this? It’s hard to do – we get stuck in our ruts of thoughts, and we get bogged down in the muddiness of our wrong thinking. But Paul says in Philippians 4:8 that there is a way to help us get unstuck. In the Greek translations, it paraphrases like this: “all things that are true, honorable, right, modest, friendly, well spoken of – if there is excellence – meditate on these things.” But what is the significance?
- Remember how God allowed you to be a blessing to others, the joy the came from being able to serve and uplift someone else in their time of need. Do you think you were thought of as a burden when you reached out to help? If you truly care about someone, you want to help when you see them struggling. Do you think less of them for needing help? No, and they don’t think less of you for needing help. Why can’t God work through people to be a blessing to you?
- Remind yourself how God’s goodness is present in your life through your friends and family. Allow yourself to think of these “helpers” as extensions of God’s arms, hands, feet, and heart to reach out and touch you when you are tired, scared, sick, or weary. Think about how these people are honorable, right, modest, friendly, and excellent through the grace of God. How do they encourage you to be the same?
- Renew your mind with God’s way of thinking. God says we are His beloved children, a precious treasure and masterpiece He upholds and guides. How is thinking of yourself as a burden true or honorable or right? It isn’t! We need to remember that we are human and will therefore need help throughout our life – and it is not wrong to need or ask for it.
God has blessed us with people in our lives who love us and walk down our faith path with us. And we need to acknowledge, appreciate, and approve of their efforts to care for, encourage, and abide with us. Psalm 42:8a says, “Each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me.” He does this primarily through these people He’s carefully and purposefully placed in our lives, the people closest to us that we are often quick to push away in times of trials or sickness. When we are weak, tired, exhausted, or stressed out, God wants to encourage and “unburden” us. And He will use the people closest to us to accomplish this. Isaiah 40:29 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Let your friends and family empower you by their love and strengthen you with their help. Give them the grace and mercy to do so. And remember that God never sees you as a burden; He will always see you as His child that He wants to comfort, love, strengthen, encourage, guide, and bless.
Marie Fremin. Originally written 11/12/06