I visited with a family recently who just lost a dear loved one. The wife of over 50 years kept saying to those of us who tried to comfort her, “You don’t understand.” She was right. None of us understood. How could we? She lost her husband, her friend, her life partner of more than half a century. How could I understand? How could anyone understand?
Death is one of the most ugly realities of life. It rips us from one another. It hurts. But it’s not only death that may make us want to scream out, “You don’t understand!” It could be the resurfacing of a past hurt, the hidden scars of an abusive spouse, the crushing sense of inadequacy with a wayward child, or the swirling cocktail of emotions following serious medical diagnosis. You’ve probably been there at some point yourself: the brokenness that hurt more deeply than you felt safe admitting, the dulling of your emotions after trying, and failing, again to reach the lost sheep, or the distance from close friends created by rapid life change such as the birth of a child or a career promotion. The truth is, we intuitively understand that others can’t always understand.
I am encouraged as I read the Bible, because I am not sure God ever places understanding on our shoulders.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
“Bear one another’s burdens” means to relate, empathize, and love. It means to come alongside of. It means to share the load. It means to encourage. I am drawn to the freedom God gives in these words. We are to support, not solve. We are to assist, not fix. Our care, concern, and love should gradually and intentionally usher others toward the only One who can understand, the only One who can solve, the only One who can fix. Jesus understands us because He designed us to think, feel, and act just like we do. In His sovereign wisdom, He placed us on this planet just when He did and where He did. He came to live like us and experience emotion like us. He knows what it feels like to be loved, protected, cared for, emulated, hurt, misunderstood, betrayed, doubted, forgotten (even murdered), and countless other experiences this human existence throws our way. In fact, He designed our human existence to be able to feel each experience we have faced. Not only did He make us just so, He is the Healer, the Great Physician, and the Mender of souls. He longs to reach down to His creation and fix what’s broken, bandage what’s wounded, restore what’s been taken, and save what’s been lost.
So, the next time someone says, “You don’t understand.” It’s ok to say, “You’re right, I don’t. But I know the One who does.” Then, take them to meet Him.