HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 2, 2006, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Carrying the weight of the world

Pastor Jim Beard, Delano United Methodist Church, Delano

The following story speaks well to our over-stressed lifestyles. The illustration is a refreshing reminder to anyone feeling the weight of the world upon his or her shoulders.

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water? Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.”

“If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.  When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.”

“So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can.”  

Two things come to my mind as I read this story: (1) Jesus often called the people to him, saying in essence, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and stressed out, and I will ease your worries.” Jesus is the one to whom we can carry our burdens of care, lay them at his cross, and then relax.

Our risen Lord understands the stresses under which we live. He is sometimes the only one upon whom we can dump our baggage, and he is ready to take it all on for us.

(2) Stress management goes all the way back to the days of ancient Israel, only they didn’t call it stress management back then; they called it Sabbath-keeping. One day out of seven, the people of God gladly received the commandment to put everything down, and relax. Following the same pattern God used in creation, the ancient Israelites found rest and renewal each week in the Lord and with each other.

In her book, “Practicing Our Faith,” Dorothy C. Bass writes, “In an authentically Christian form of Sabbath-keeping, we may affirm the grateful relationship to the Creator that Jews celebrate each Sabbath, and we may share the joyful liberation from drudgery first experienced by the slaves who left Egypt. But we add to these celebrations our weekly festival for the source of our greatest joy: Christ’s victory over the powers of death. For Christians, this victory makes of each weekly day of rest and worship a celebration of Easter.”

So, take a day off each week, put down the stress you are so diligently carrying, and rejoice! The weight of the world can be lifted from your shoulders, if you will turn it over to Him. And even if it is a burden you are compelled to pick up again later, your faith will enable you to do so with renewed strength, hope, and determination.

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