There are two kinds of burdens—those that God lays on us, and those which we lay on ourselves. When God lays the burden on the back, he gives us strength to carry it. There never was a Christian who, in his weariest and dreariest hours, could not say, “His grace is sufficient.” If God smiles on him, he can smile under any burden that he may have to carry. He can go up the “hill of difficulty” singing, and walk confidently into the very land of the shadow of death. For God’s burdens are easy to bear; because he walks with us, and when the journey is too great, and the burden too heavy, and our hearts begin to fail and faint, he is sure to whisper, “Cast thy burden upon me, and I will sustain thee.”
The burdens that are hard to bear are those we lay upon ourselves. What a burden to themselves, and to every one around them, are the lazy and the unemployed! If it is a man, prayers should be offered up for his family and his dependents,—for who is so morbid and melancholy, so pettish and fretful, so devoured by spleen and ennui, as the man with nothing to do? There is a lion in every way to him. He is out of God’s order of creation; the busy world has no sympathy with him; society has no use for him; no one is the better for his life, and no one is sorry for his death. He is simply the fungus of living, active, breathing humanity. The lazy lay a burden on their backs which would appall men who have fought winds and waves, and searched the bowels of the earth, and bound to their will the subtle forces of electricity and steam.
The burdens we bind for ourselves we shall have to bear alone. God is not going to help us, and angels stand afar off; good men and women are not here bound by the injunction, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” The envious, the proud, the drunkard, the seducer, the complainer, the lazy, etc., must bear their self-inflicted burdens, till they perish with them.
If the kingdom of heaven could be taken by some wonderful coup d’état, many would be first that are now last. But of great deeds little account is to be made. They are indigenous in every condition of society. It is a great life that is never a failure. A great life composed of a multitude of little burdens, cheerfully borne, and little charges faithfully kept. And this is a kind of Christian warfare, that is specially to be carried on in the sphere of the home. Many a professor, faithful in all the weightier matters of the law and the sanctuary, and blameless in the eyes of the world, is a rock of offence in his own household. His wife doubts his religion, his children fear him, and his servants call him a hard master. He pays all his tithes of mint, anise, and cummin to the church and society, but as regards the little burdens of his own household, he is worse than a publican.
Small burdens make up the moral and religious probation of a majority of women, for they have but rare occasion for the exercise of such faith and fortitude as commands the eye of the world. But these burdens, though apparently small and contracted in their sphere, are not only very important in their results, but often singularly irritating. Sickly, fretful children—impertinent, lazy servants—a thoughtless, irregular husband—a hundred other burdens so small she does not like to say how heavy she feels them to be and how sorely they weary her,—these are “her warfare;” and because the Master has laid them upon her, shall she not bear them? The world may call them “little burdens,” but there is nothing small in the eyes of Infinity.
In no way can a woman cultivate beauty and strength of character so well as in the patient bearing and carrying of the small burdens that every day await her—the headaches and toothaches—the weariness and weakness incident to her position and condition. For it is the glory of a woman that her weakness or weariness never shrouds a household in gloom, or makes the atmosphere electrical with impatience and irritability. To carry her burden, whatever it may be, cheerfully, is not a little victory, and such daily victories make the last great one easy to be won. It is hard to die before we have learned to live; but death is easy to those who have conquered life. To such the grave is but a laying down of all burdens, a rest from labor and obligation, while yet their works of love and unselfishness do follow them with fruit and blessing.
We must not forget that in our journey through life, there are burdens which we may lawfully make our own. We may help the weak and the struggling on to their feet, when they have fallen in the battle of life. We may comfort those “touched by the finger of God.” We may copy the Good Samaritan, not forgetting the oil and two pence. We may wipe the tears from the eyes of the widow and the fatherless. In bearing such burdens as these, we shall find ourselves in good company; for in the tabernacles of sanctified suffering we may come near to the Divine Burden Bearer; and going on messages of mercy, we may meet angels going the same way.
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