I’ve seen it numerous times: when faced with difficulty and pain, many people, myself included, choose to isolate themselves and carry their burdens alone. Sometimes, we hide because we feel afraid of reaching out and being vulnerable, ashamed that we even face this situation in the first place, or too proud to admit we can’t shoulder the burden ourselves. Not once have I seen this strategy produce good fruit. Isolating and hiding burdens causes more pain and relational damage.

In fact, I remember a time when a dear friend walked through some incredibly difficult things. It was quite a while (years even) before she bravely spilled all the heartache over a warm cup of coffee. As I listened my heart broke for my friend-honestly even found myself angry-that she went through all that suffering alone. I would have given anything to be there for her in her darkest moments. If not me, at least someone.

As I prayed over the women of Johnson Ferry, the Lord brought to mind one thing the early church did well that I wanted to emphasize to you, and that is the fellowship of needs. Our modern American culture often overlooks it, but did you know that sharing a need with your brothers and sisters in Christ can actually strengthen and deepen your relationships with them? 

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We usually (and there’s nothing wrong with this approach!) put ourselves in the place of those who are commanded to bear the burdens of others. But today, let’s consider the other side of the coin.  What if you have a need? Must you always be the one to bear others’ burdens while carrying your own burdens alone?

The early church embodied some fantastic examples of community. Read Acts 2:42-47, and you’ll see the incredible things they did together:

•   Devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching

•   Devoted themselves to fellowship

•   Broke bread together

•   Did wonders and signs

•   Had all things in common, distributing their possessions to anyone who had need.

Sisters, this is the better way. Do not let your burdens remain hidden while you “fake it ’til you make it.” You’re more likely to “make it” when you let others help you carry your burdens. Even Christ, when the burden of the cross became too heavy for Him to bear, allowed Simon to carry it for Him (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26). 

Our friend Hosanna Wong offers a memorable way to process this idea: ACCEPT & ASK.
For many of us, the first step is reaching out to one person, whether that’s accepting or asking. Is there someone who has invited you that you can say yes to? Is there someone who comes to mind that you could have the courage to reach out to? When God puts someone in your life, on your heart, or consistently on your mind, don’t ignore it. If you do you might be missing out on life-giving relationships around you that can build and strengthen you.

If you’re struggling, today I challenge you to confess your need to a sister in Christ so that she can be the church to you.  As your needs are met, you can do the same for someone else in your community, “and so fulfill the law of Christ.”