Wednesday, March 27th
Lighten: to relieve of a burden in whole or in part; lessen; to make less wearisome; alleviate; cheer; gladden
Matthew 10:42 (NRSV)
…and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.
My sister Janet was struggling as we hiked along the Rockies. Every step was excruciating. We were novice backpackers with the wrong equipment, and her hiking boots had rubbed huge blisters on her heels. The rest of our youth group had gone ahead to the next campsite. With every step, we felt more alone and discouraged. She was near tears.
What a wonderful surprise to see a few of the young men from our group coming back over the crest of the mountain! After dropping their packs off at the site, they had returned to take Janet’s backpack from her. She was still in pain, but without the burden of the pack- and less pressure on her feet and heels- she was able to make it to the campsite more quickly and easily.
We are called to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). But there are LOTS of burdens, aren’t there? We can so quickly feel overwhelmed by the numbers of people who share the same burden, or by the size of the burden one person may have. We do want to help, but the problems seem too large to fix! Instead, we become stymied and intimidated, frozen into inaction.
As I think of the young men who helped Janet, I am reminded that we only need to do what we CAN do. No one could totally fix Janet’s troubles. No one could carry her to the next site. No one could immediately heal her blisters. She still had to keep hiking the rest of the way. But the guys did what they could do; they relieved her of the burden of her backpack for the remaining portion of the trail. They accompanied us all the way to the campsite. They lifted her spirits (and mine) by helping and going with us.
Jesus was warning the disciples of the hardships ahead as they went out to share the good news. He speaks of people who will be against them, but he is grateful for the ones who will welcome them and help them. He goes on to say how someone who shares even a cup of cold water will one day be rewarded. One simple act like a cup of water could refresh and bless the disciples as they endured hardships along the way.
When we look at the multitude of needs around us, we might feel that any actions we take would be futile. The magnitude of a problem may cause us to overlook the one thing we can do. And yet, one small act of kindness may do more than we can imagine. Is there one thing we can do to help someone today? We will never be able to eliminate all the troubles of the world, but a little help is much better than doing nothing at all.
All definitions are excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash