“When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know . . .” (2 Chronicles 6:28-30).

IN HIS PRAYER AT THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE, SOLOMON PRAYED THAT GOD WOULD HEAR THE PRAYERS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL WHO WAS IN NEED. “When each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive.”

It is certainly true that each person “knows his own burden and his own grief.” To live in this world is to know the pain of struggle and sorrow — there is no way around it. So we can take it for granted that every person we encounter is struggling. We may not know the particulars, but it’s a safe bet that every person we meet is hurting. Each of us has his own burden and his own grief.

And our burdens and griefs really are unique. Unlike happiness, which is often very similar from person to person, sorrow tends to be a more individual thing. Yes, we know that others have suffered in similar ways (many have suffered more than we), but there is still a distinct and undeniable loneliness that comes with our burdens and our griefs. Since our circumstances vary so greatly, there is rarely another human being who understands exactly what we feel. And the longer we live, the more we realize that the unique burden we have to bear is intended for us. No one else should have to bear it. It is ours. And while we must avoid the self-pity and the self-righteousness of the martyr-spirit, it can’t be denied that our suffering is a burden that we alone must bear. As Sir Thomas Fuller put it, “Every heart has its own ache.”

Yet if each of us has his own burden and his own grief, it is also true that our tears are those that God is able to wipe away. He understands our experience completely, and that knowledge ought to be both humbling and comforting: we are humbled to know that He has suffered far more than we, and we are comforted to know that by His suffering He has defeated our enemy.

“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal” (Thomas Moore).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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