We can be brothers, sisters, burden-lifters
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, like Jesus, we could free our brothers and sisters from the burdens they bear?
Who hasn’t faced a day when a sense of burden was so daunting that we wished the day could be over before it began? The pressure and stress of family, business, personal challenges, pain, or sorrow can seem unrelenting and make us feel helpless.
There was a woman in the Bible who likely woke to such a feeling every day (see Luke 13:10–13). We read that she “had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.” The description of her ailment as a “spirit of infirmity” suggests there was something in thought that was manifesting itself in her body and experience. Was it worldly cares that burdened her so heavily that she could not stand upright? A personal tragedy? A lack of love?
We’ll never know, but we do know that upon seeing her, Jesus “called her to him” and then spoke to her with the authority of God’s perfect love: “Thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” The account then says that “he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”
With a compassionate word and touch, that heavy burden was lifted. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, like Jesus, we could free our brothers and sisters from the burdens they bear? Maybe it’s a loved one, or an oppressed people halfway around the world. Though the images we see might appear to be stubborn physical or moral conditions, these are really mental impediments based on a falsehood, like the infirmity that burdened the woman Luke described. Hence, we can dispel these images as readily as Jesus did—prayerfully and with spiritual authority.
The burdens we bear stem from beliefs that form what we think, feel, or see but are not what God thinks, feels, or sees. Thoughts such as fear, pride, animosity, sensuality, and jealousy foster a sense of separation from God. But God doesn’t make these thoughts—they are nothing posing as something. These beliefs or suggestions are lifted off of us and others when we see what God sees in each of us—His image and likeness.
So, if we see a brother or sister suffering under an oppression, what can be our response? Can we love as Jesus did by mentally “unseeing” what the physical senses report and affirming what God, the divine Mind, knows? As difficult as it may seem to refute what appears to be undeniable evidence, it is both possible and necessary. “That mortal mind claims to govern every organ of the mortal body, we have overwhelming proof,” Mary Baker Eddy writes. “But this so-called mind is a myth, and must by its own consent yield to Truth. It would wield the sceptre of a monarch, but it is powerless. The immortal divine Mind takes away all its supposed sovereignty, and saves mortal mind from itself” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 151–152). Maintaining godly thoughts about everyone we see, and mentally reversing negative suggestions, helps to remove the burdens that plague humanity.
I was the beneficiary of such love when a friend helped remove a burden I’d been carrying for some time. I had struggled with a crippling pain in one knee that made it difficult to walk or navigate any kind of incline. Although I was praying, the condition worsened. I expected to be healed, but at times was tempted to believe that the best I could do was just “manage” the pain. Being an avid runner and biker, I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into self-pity.
One day, following the midweek meeting at our local branch Church of Christ, Scientist, this friend invited me to join him on a bike ride. We had never ridden together before, and his offer came from a desire that we get to know each other better. Any other time I would have jumped at the opportunity, but because of the challenge I was dealing with, I thanked him for the invitation and declined.
My friend’s brotherly love and refusal to pin a belief of disability on me helped remove my burden.
Weeks later, he approached me again with the same offer. Still struggling with pain, I again declined. Thankfully, he didn’t give up, inviting me again some time later. At this point I explained what was keeping me from riding. He responded with so much love that it was as if an angel was dissolving my resistance. He said, “It’s not about how far we go. I’ll go as fast or as far as you’re comfortable going.” His refusal to legitimize my fear lifted it totally off of me. At that moment, I knew this problem would be healed, and I agreed to join him.
This impelled me to pray even more. I saw that my fear was based on the false narrative that I was separated from God and experiencing something that God didn’t create or know. Fear is based on an impossibility, I thought, and is therefore baseless.
I prayed along these lines until the day of the ride. As I pulled my bike off the rack, fear tempted me to back out. But, as if I were a child contemplating a jump off of a diving board, I realized there was no better time than now to prove that fear had no dominion over me. I mounted the bike and began to ride. To my surprise, there was very little pain.
To meet my friend, I had to ride up a steep hill. As I approached it, I kept affirming that an expression of love could result only in divine Love’s reward and that there could be no penalty for trusting God, who is Love itself. I scaled the hill with relative ease. By the time my friend and I met, I was free of pain. We had a wonderful ride—in fact, we were both surprised by how far and how fast we rode! A week later I was invited to join a group of experienced riders who rode long distances. Despite the fact that this would be my first long ride in a couple of years, I joined the group and never once felt pain. I was healed. And I’ve ridden thousands of miles since with perfect freedom.
It was my friend’s brotherly love and refusal to pin a belief of disability on me that helped remove that burden. It also helped me see more clearly that Jesus was not in the business of making human bodies better. He was in the business of lifting off mental burdens—the fear, doubt, guilt, self-pity, and self-will that conceal our Godlike perfection as His image and likeness.
Do you believe you don’t know enough of Christian Science to be a burden-lifter yourself? That, too, is a burden that needs to be lifted. We are all on the path of deepening our understanding of God, which enables us to do this naturally. And we never need to doubt the effectiveness of our prayers, no matter how simple they may be. “When thought dwells in God,” Mrs. Eddy says, “—and it should not, to our consciousness, dwell elsewhere,—one must benefit those who hold a place in one’s memory, whether it be friend or foe, and each share the benefit of that radiation” (Miscellaneous Writings, 1883–1896, p. 290).
It’s a privilege and a joy to be a burden-lifter. Such love goes a long way toward removing the burdens that afflict mankind. It brings us all closer to witnessing the kingdom of heaven on earth, with all our brothers and sisters upright, whole, and free.