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BURDENS THAT ARE TOO HEAVY

(Originally published in August 2020)

I just finished reading the book The Hiding Place for the first time. Some of you are shocked that I’m just now reading this book. Others of you have probably never heard of it. For that crowd, here’s the basic plot summary. It’s the story of the ten Boom family--a Dutch family living in Holland during WWII. They are very committed Christians, and they end up taking part in hiding Jews from the German occupation. As a result, they are arrested and the two sisters are sent to a concentration camp in Germany. One survives (Corrie) and one dies (Betsy). Corrie goes on to start a home for people who suffered in the war, helping them through forgiveness of their enemies. She even meets one of the soldiers from her concentration camp later in life. He is moved by the message of Jesus she has shared--that even his sins can be forgiven by Jesus. It’s a moving story in just about every respect. It brought me to tears. It made me laugh. It made my heart ache in the best ways. 


There are many lessons and truths to be absorbed from this classic book. There’s one in particular that I’d like to share today. There’s a scene in the book from when Corrie is a young girl, and she’s on a train with her father, who’s a very respected watchmaker. She takes a moment to ask him something she’s been wondering about--it happens to be a question about sex. These things were simply not discussed in her time and place. But she was curious about something she had heard, and she trusted that it was okay to ask her father about it.


His response is fascinating. He asks her to get down his briefcase full of tools. It’s very heavy. He asks if she could carry it for him when they get off the train. It’s definitely too heavy for her, and it would be very difficult. He uses this as an illustration. He tells her that he knows the answer to her question, but she is not yet ready for the weight of this answer, just as she is not ready for the weight of the briefcase. So instead her father will continue carrying that weight for her until she’s ready to bear the answer. 


Later in life, while Corrie is suffering in prison and then the concentration camp, this illustration comes back to her. She is witnessing the depths of human depravity. She feels the pain for herself, but also the deep pain of watching others suffer. Then she realizes that God is like her father. He is able to bear the weight of these sufferings. The weight of the “why’s” and the “what if’s.” When Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary. My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” He’s offering to carry those things that are so heavy they may crush us. 


Some of us have not come near witnessing or experiencing that level of suffering. Yet these last couple of months have forced us to look at suffering and death more than we usually would. We’ve seen the New York Times list of people who’ve died from Covid-19. We’ve heard about the day-laborers in India facing deeper poverty and even starvation because of the pandemic. We’ve felt hopeless as we see this sickness enter refugee camps, where the overcrowding and already dire conditions will only fuel the spread. We’ve seen the gaps of rich and poor even more pronounced as we realize how many people depend on school lunches or don’t have internet at home. Single people have felt depths of loneliness. Parents have found themselves at the edge of their sanity. We’ve felt the anger and division caused by turning a pandemic political. We’ve seen the video of George Floyd dying at the mercy of police. We’ve witnessed the peaceful and less than peaceful protests taking over our cities. Some have felt the pain of blatant and subtle racism and we’ve witnessed the effects of a racist system. We’ve been unsure how to hold this pain. Regardless of our levels of suffering, we have all shared in suffering these past couple of months. None of us can say it hasn’t touched us. Yet to all these different pains, there is one answer -- the Lord who offers to carry our burdens. He invites us to say, “This is too much for me to bear. Will You take it?” The One who bears the suffering of the world is inviting us to find relief in Him. Will you?

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