Sharing Burdens and Lightening the Load

Why is it so important to have loving trusted friendships? Why not just enjoy the time spent by the water cooler with your friends at work, waiting in the car line for the kids after school, or hanging out after a workout at the gym? Well, for one thing, good friends carry your cross. They literally lighten your load and help you fulfill your purpose. As a result the circumstances don't necessarily change, but you change inside. A good friend strengthens you by God's life flowing through your friendship.

You may ask: Why would anyone want to carry a cross or get involved in someone else's mess? When you have the courage to step out in obedience, and be there for someone else, God blesses you with joy and you help fulfill each other's purpose! According to research and statistics expert George Barna, studies show over half the people in America do not know their purpose. Do you know what your purpose for living is? I will tell you right now. Your purpose is to love Jesus. If Jesus lives in your heart, your purpose is to know Him and love Him.

When someone asks for help, when someone is broken and bleeding, helping them carry their cross is messy and cumbersome. But, God is placing you in the path of their cross to help them carry out their destiny! Carrying a cross is inconvenient and uncomfortable. But this is where you will find peace and God's purpose for your life! Even Jesus had help carrying the cross. (Luke 23:26 - When they led him away, they grabbed one Simon from Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it after Jesus.) Jesus was so brutally beaten, tired, broken, and bleeding he did not even have the strength to ask for help. He was on his way to his death! Simon was forced to carry the cross based on the circumstances before him. He probably did not want to, may have been deathly afraid, but because of being caught in the vortex of that perfect storm of Jesus' crucifixion, he helped carry out the destiny of Jesus by carrying the cross.

In Mark 8: 34 (AMP) Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me]." Dying to self can be tougher than dying to sin. You still have to live with yourself. My friend and mentor, Joy, and walked alongside me, each of us carrying the other's crosses when it got too heavy. God gave one to the other and we cultivated a very unique relationship that lasted a lifetime. This friendship enabled us to face ourselves safely and honestly in a way that could never have happened otherwise. What we were doing was personifying the dynamics of the Trinity. The Amplified version of the Bible calls the Holy Spirit the Comforter—the Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby. Just as the Holy Spirit is in us, He lives His attributes through us. I would not be who I am or where I am today without her loving wisdom. If she were still alive she'd tell you her life would not have held the depth of meaning she had in her golden years without my loving support. We were so good to each other and had so much fun together!

Even now, I do the same in my new trusted friendships. We talk, share one another's burdens, carry one other's crosses and lighten the load. One of the most precious things I appreciate about my close friendships is our prayer time together. We stop and pray when there is an overwhelming need. Over and over again I have seen God intervene in our desperate cries for help together, whether it's a child's emergency room visit, a heartfelt marriage issue, feeling lonely, not understanding why the merry-go-round of life doesn't stop. Whatever the problem is, God answers!

You need good friends to keep you from faltering. (Prov. 24:10 - If you falter in the time of trouble, your strength is small.) Your loving, trusted friendships keep you from wavering, strengthen you, and fill you with faith. A good friend keeps your discouragement from being contagious, especially to those close around you who may be depending upon you for strength. (Deut. 20:8 - The officers shall speak further to the people, and they shall say, "What man is there who is fearful or fainthearted? Let him go home and return to his house, lest his brother's heart melt as his heart.")

My daughter and I were talking recently about the advantages and disadvantages of a married versus a single lifestyle. She is in a serious relationship where they are both thinking about the future. She sees one friend going through a difficult time in her marriage and sometimes acting more single than married and it concerns her because her friend wonders if she married Mr. Right. Godless, immoral values press in against us daily! What we both determined is it's not who you meet that counts. It's who you are that matters most. The important issue is not to find the right person, but to be the right person. The same principle applies to finding and feeding a good friendship. "But seek first God's kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well," says Jesus in Matthew 6:33.

God has called you to be a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1-2 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, which is your spiritual service. Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.) He has called you to die to yourself and live to his wonderful purpose for your life. This is an intentional decision you make to lay your life down for his. As you carry your friend's cross, you will find His life flowing through your own. We must come alongside one another being the hands, feet and heart of Jesus in our relationships. This is life and joy! God has men and women in your life right now who will become deep loving lifelong friends. As you love Jesus above all else, you will see them clearly. (Heb. 12:2 – Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.) The joy is set before you right now! It's all about Jesus and the joy He has for us right now with each other!

Cultivate seeds of friendship right now and reap the blessings of these friendship. Carry each other's crosses, lighten each other's loads, and by carrying the cross, help fulfill the purpose God has for each one of us!