The older I’ve become the more I realize the true value of being able to connect with people, truly connect. The kind of connection where you look someone in the eye and feel their pain, their joy, or passion for something. Often times we will find a fun connection with a person because they enjoy a similar activity or maybe it’s a common love for a sports team or Netflix series. There are other times when we unwillingly find ourselves thrown into situations where we are meeting new people because of an unpleasant or even traumatic circumstance. I remember the first time I attended an ALS support group meeting with my parents after learning of my dad’s newly diagnoses of this horrible disease. I was looking at a group of people that were all together because of a common connection, albeit a terrible one, but a connection none the less. I saw such bravery and strength as I shook their hands and looked into their eyes. I also saw sadness and confusion…the exact same emotions we were feeling. It was an important connection that God provided at just the right time.
People go through things…hard things. People change and evolve as life changes and evolves. Sometimes those changes are wonderful: marriages, babies, graduations, etc. There are other times when things happen in life that require unwanted change: sickness, death, wayward child, etc. The question is, what do we do with unexpected life changes: the good, the bad, the ugly? How do we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move forward? I believe it’s our God given instruction that enables us to make connections and recognize the mysterious gift of bearing one another’s burdens.
I love the way John MacArthur explains it in a 2010 article from Table Talk Magazine entitled “Bearing One Another’s Burdens”:
“It is our duty as believers to help bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). When someone staggers, we help steady the load. If he is straining, we help bear the burden. And if he stumbles, we lift him up. Helping fellow believers carry the weight of their worldly troubles is one of the chief practical duties that ought to consume every Christian.”
This concept goes against the grain of our culture and comfortable lifestyles, it gets in the way, it’s messy at times. I can say with complete confidence that suffering produces the gift of deeper intimacy with my Savior which then deepens my intimacy and connection with others. There is fellowship and connection in suffering.
As I move forward in life, I want so desperately to just make meaningful connections with people that will help prevent loneliness and make a positive impact; a connection that will foster a deeper relationship with Christ. Being able to simply sit and cry with someone experiencing crushing grief has actually been one of God’s greatest gifts He has entrusted to me. Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” It is my greatest desire to connect with others, bear one another’s burdens, and be gifted with meaningful connections.