The Burden of Being Needed
Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15
The church pews on Sunday morning include people battling depression and addiction. There are couples who sit together at church, but won’t speak to one another at home. There are teenagers who struggle with anxiety over the constant judgment of a social media world. Abuse, anger, guilt, and loneliness are written on the lines of the parishioners’ faces. Still more problems plague those who are absent from worship on account of the shame that they feel. There is so much pain among the saints of God due to the hardness of our hearts.
To those sinners, God has sent one who is to bring them the healing balm of the Gospel. To them, God sends one to care for their souls. He is called by God to visit them in their brokenness. He offers them a listening ear and a caring heart. A pastor is a shepherd sent by God to bear the burdens of the flock.
At times, the burden is too great to bear. The pastor is shocked when the seemingly model marriage disintegrates before his eyes. His knees buckle when the teenager attempts suicide. His faith is shaken when the pillar of the church is diagnosed with terminal cancer with three children at home. The reality is that it is not only the church pews that are filled with struggling sinners on Sunday morning, but the chairs in the chancel. Pastors are weak and frail sinners, for whom the burden of the office is often too much.
Yet, the Lord’s promises remain true. First, God is faithful and He continues to remain with those whom He has called, bearing the burden for them. Our Lord Jesus Christ invites even pastors to come to Him when weak and heavy laden to find rest for our souls. He continues to come to us through His Word as it is read, heard, preached, prayed and sung, as well as through His very body and blood to strengthen us for the burden of the pastoral office. Second, those whom God has called to serve as His representatives are never alone. Just like Moses and Elijah, God has preserved others to assist in the care of souls. The blessing of a father confessor or the mutual consolation of the brethren means receiving the care from another, but also the assurance that one is not alone in serving Christ. All those who serve in the Church need to be reminded that they are not alone, that Christ is with them and that God has blessed them by the care of others. Please pray for all pastors and those who bear the burdens of others in the Church that they would be strengthened by our Lord Jesus Christ!
Prayer – O Lord, to Your grace and mercy I commend all my fellow servants who hold office in Your Church. Remove any discord and dissension among us. Give us loving hearts toward all in true humility, and help us to bear with compassion the burdens of others; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan