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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Obligated to carry this

Have you ever heard the little saying:  Everyone comes with baggage - you just need to hook up with someone who is willing to help you unpack it?  I don't know if this is the exact saying, but you can get the idea.  We ALL have baggage!  We all have burdens we carry - some quite well-packed and others just barely hanging on!  We all handle our burdens differently - some bear them in silence while others ramble incessantly about the difficulties in life.  Here's what I know:  Whenever a burden wants to attach itself to our shoulders, we need to refuse to carry it!

God saves those who suffer by using their suffering.  He uses their troubles to speak in a way that makes them listen.  In fact, God wants to help you out of your troubles.  He wants to take away your burdens that are crushing you.   He wants to load your table with plenty of food.  (Job 36:15-16 ERV)

Job has been right smack in the middle of being "saddled" with some burdens beyond his physical, mental, or emotional ability to handle on his own.  In the midst of this, he has found himself complaining, withdrawing, and acting out. His spouse, friends, and even those who just know him in the community, all have seen the evidence of his burdens.  Some commiserate with him - others are sure he has done something wrong - still others just shake their head, unable to figure out what went wrong!  The range of emotions from those "saddled" with the burden is as wide as you might imagine - the response to the burden ranges from anger to withdrawal.  

Elihu is speaking the words above - after listening to Job and his other three friends go over all the possible scenarios for the cause of Job's burden.  His other three friends all have a "take" on Job's circumstances which comes from the perspective of God "judging" Job for something.  In other words, they say the "bad stuff" that is happening is just because Job must have done something wrong or have some unrighteousness in him which caused God to "judge" him.  Elihu has probably been listening to these men "advise" Job, and he interjects his thoughts in this one chapter of the book of Job.  We don't know much about Elihu, but his message might just help us in getting our own "baggage" unpacked!

Elihu begins with the idea of "suffering" (the burden Job bears) being "allowed" by God.  Now, for ages there have been those who ask, "How can a good God allow bad stuff to happen?"  The truth is, we live in a sinful world, with all men having a sin nature - so bad stuff happens, and sometimes to good people!  Elihu simply puts it out there that God might have a purpose in the suffering (the burden).  Most importantly, he gives Job (and his three companions) a little food for thought.  He lays out the possibility that the suffering one is under today might just be "designed" (allowed) in order to drive one to a greater dependence upon God.  In the end, Elihu proposes that man will be stronger and with better "moral" footing.  I think he might have been saying God wants to bring us closer, make us stronger, and fill us deeper with is love!

By definition, a burden is that which is "borne" with some difficulty, almost as though there was an "obligation" to carry it.  This so totally hits the nail on the head as it applies to us "carrying our own burdens", doesn't it?  We take them on as though we had some "obligation" to carry them!  Then we complain all the while we are "carrying" them!  Silly, silly us!  I don't know about you, but when someone wants to "saddle" me with something I don't want to carry, I resist it!  Sometimes my "resistance" can be interpreted as "complaining".  In fact, it is just that!  Yet, in my "complaining" sometimes I find the discovery of the truth of how this burden came to be "mine"!  I see just where I allowed myself to be "saddled" and where the load shifted from the other person to me!

In a study a couple of days ago, we looked at the concept of "complaining if you must", but learning to use your "heart-talk" to really connect with God on the matters which burden you.  Here's where the difference is between what Job's three other friends were trying to do and what Elihu was saying.  We may complain, but if we aren't taking our complaint to God for his perspective, we aren't "complaining" to the one who can do anything to help us "unpack" our burdens.  Elihu says God often uses our burdens to help us develop "listening" ears.  Herein lies the truth - we often don't listen until we realize the weight of our burden is greater than we can handle!

As we further "unpack" this passage, we see Elihu instructs Job to trust God to "unburden" him.  In fact, he reminds Job that God desires to "help you" come out from the weight of the burden.  This is often where we mess things up - we try to unpack our own burdens, only finding we are incapable of doing so with any lasting success.  You see, we "unpack" the "saddle", but the saddle remains!  Only God removes the "burden" AND the "saddle".  So, instead of being "saddled" with things we feel "obligated" to carry, doesn't it make sense to allow God to do a little "unpacking" in your life?  Just askin?