By Chaplain (Capt.) Jeremy Dunn
Special to GUIDON
I recently had the opportunity to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
It was breathtakingly beautiful yet torturous. I would wake up in the morning and look in despair at that 50 pound pack I knew I had to carry for another day up and down those mountains. But while I was trekking along,
I had this thought picking up this heavy load every day and carrying it all day long is what it feels like for many people every day of their lives.
Some people wake up in the morning and head out for the day carrying along their guilt and shame. Others drag unrealistic expectations or the pieces of shattered dreams.
A pack of loneliness here, a bag of hopelessness over there. Everyone we meet in life is carrying burdens and often they are shouldering that load alone.
Paul, in his letter to the church at Galatia, urges fellow believers to “bear one another’s burdens.” As he begins chapter six, Paul acknowledges that some will fail from time to time and when they do, the others should help restore such an individual with gentleness, bearing the burdens of one another. He says that by doing so, we “fulfill the law of Christ.”
What is the law of Christ if not the bearing of a burden that you and I could never shoulder?
You and I demonstrate the love of God when we care enough to lighten the load of a hurting brother or sister.
Imagine seeing someone along the trail struggling and in obvious distress. The fallen world we live in says, “Well, I guess he shouldn’t have come out here with all that junk,” as we pass him by.
But what if we stopped, offered an encouraging word and then took some of his load and placed it on our back?
That person you see struggling along may not know when, or if, they will be able to lay that burden down. As he closes this passage, Paul challenges his readers with these words, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Let that be our challenge as well.
(Editor’s note: Dunn is the 48th Infantry Regiment chaplain.)