As I wrapped up a phone conversation with a friend yesterday, we exchanged prayer requests. I was hesitant to share my prayer requests, even though this brother is a longtime and trusted prayer partner. I was hesitant, because I did not know how to express what my sense of need is. I have been struggling with that a lot lately.
I concluded that if I could not share where I am with this brother, I wouldn’t be able to do it with anyone. So I took a shot at it. And, once again, I rambled.
When someone asks me how am I adjusting to living in Jacksonville and serving the Shiloh Church, I respond affirmatively. I share the things that I find different and what I find to be the same. Moreover, I talk about what I like about where I am. I have to be careful at this point. I do not want to brag or sound obnoxious. But I don’t want to hide the fact that the Lord has been good to me, either. My wife and children have adjusted to living in Jacksonville and I can tell it is home for them. And I serve a loving people at Shiloh who have warmly received my family and ministry. I truly have nothing to complain about.
There are some things I could complain about.
As I was talking with my friend, I wanted to find a way to share my concerns without complaining. I also wanted to express my concerns carefully, without contradicting the things that I am grateful for.
With fits and starts, I shared some of these things to give my friend a sense of what to pray for me. And as I tried to find a way to summarize what I was saying, I asked him to pray that the Lord would help me to deal with the burdens within the blessings.
The burdens within the blessings.
That statement stuck with me after we prayed and hung up the phone. There are always and inevitably burdens within the blessings of life. We cannot receive a blessing that does not come with some burden. Yet we must not reject or minimize the blessings of God because they come with burdens – no assembly required. You must received both the blessings and the burdens.
Some burdens come because because you receive the blessing. That is, there are trials you face because of the place where you find yourself. You would not have the trials if you were not at that place. For instance, the married person has some trials the single person does not. But it would be foolish to throw your marriage away because of these trials. Beware, singleness as its own unique trials.
Other burdens come along with the blessing. They are the responsibilities that are a part of the stewardship of the blessing. When God blessings us it is never merely about us. God blesses us to make us a blessings to others. And we must be faithful stewards of the blessing so that we do not rob others of their blessing through you.
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the master blesses the five- and two-talent guys because of their faithfulness. Ironically, the blessing was more responsibility! “You have been faithful over a few things… I will make you a ruler over many things.” That’s the way it goes.
What should be our response to this reality?
Read 2 Corinthians 12. Paul received the blessing of a heavenly vision. To keep him from pride, the blessing resulted in the burden Paul calls a thorn in the flesh. He repeatedly asked the Lord to the painful situation. But the Lord refused. However, the Lord did give Paul several consolation blessings. “My grace is sufficient for you,” the Lord said. “My strength is make perfect in your weakness.” (2 Co. 12:9).