"Don't fret and worry--it only leads to harm."
- Psalm 37:8 TLB
Years ago, my husband had a friend whose favorite phrase was, "Not my problem!" It used to irritate me to no end whenever I heard him say it, because I thought it made him sound insensitive and unfeeling. I had forgotten all about this friend and his favorite phrase until recently, when I was worried about something, and I heard my inner voice say, "Not my problem!" I was horrified--that is, until I prayed about it, and sensed that it was the Spirit of God prompting me to say it. You see, I had been fretting about a problem that I had no business fretting about. I didn't realize it at the time, but after I prayed about it, the Lord made it clear to me that He didn't want me taking on this particular burden, and He wasn't giving me the grace to deal with it. So I promptly put the matter in His capable, loving hands, and I told Him that I was trusting Him to handle it in His perfect way and timing.
As long as I can remember, I've had a problem with taking on other people's burdens. Once, when I was in counseling many years ago, a godly woman said to me, "Joanne, you can't bleed for everyone." Her statement shocked me. She was a strong Christian, and she exemplified Jesus unlike anyone else I had ever met. And yet, here she was telling me not to care so much about others. She saw firsthand what this kind of "caring" was doing to me. I was depressed and anxious. And I suffered from numerous physical ailments that were undoubtedly related to my depressed mental state. During this time, my family was going through some pretty serious trials, and at one point, I made myself so sick with worry that I ended up in the hospital with stomach problems. My Aunt Peggy, who had never spoken a harsh word to me in all the years I'd known her, called me on the phone and began to chastise me. She said, "What are you doing in that hospital?! Do you really think you're doing anyone any good by making yourself sick?!" I knew she was right. And I made a quality decision that day to do my best, with God's help, to resist taking on more "caring" about others than I could handle.
The Bible says: "Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you." (Psalm 55:22 AMP) God never meant for us to carry our own burdens. Our hearts, minds, and bodies are simply not designed to handle this kind of stress, and they will rebel if we insist on weighing them down with heavy loads of worry, anxiety, and fear. Let me ask you something: If God makes it clear in His Word that He doesn't want us carrying our own burdens, do you think He wants us carrying the burdens of others? No way. And this is a revelation that a large number of Christians need to get ahold of today.
What can we do for our loved ones and others when we see them struggling with their problems? Sometimes, we'll know right away that we need to step in and lend them a hand, and the Lord's grace will be there to help us help them. But for the times when we're not certain what our part should be, we should promptly pray for the wisdom and guidance that God promises us in His Word. (James 1:5) Even if we sense in our spirits that it's not wise for us to get directly involved, we can pray for these people, and ask the Lord to send them some special encouragement, as well as timely and effective help. Sometimes, we'll need to pray that these folks will learn to rely more on God, and less on others. In those cases, God will not be pleased if we intervene and hinder the work He's trying to do in their lives.
Adopting this principal will help us to come up to a new level of peace in our lives. It will increase our joy. And it will make it possible for us to fulfill the call of God on our lives, which we can't do if we're busy trying to solve other people's problems, or if we're worrying ourselves sick. This strategy will help us to mind our own business, too, which the Bible clearly tells us to do. (1 Thessalonians 4:11) The next time you're tempted to take on someone else's problems, or to stick your nose where it doesn't belong, remember these three little powerful words--"Not my problem!"
Prayer: Lord, fill my heart with the God-kind of love, so that I'll always be compassionate toward others. When I'm tempted to shoulder other people's problems, remind me that you alone were meant to be the Burden-Bearer. Thank You that as I follow Your Spirit's leading in this area, I will experience the peace, joy, and well-being that Jesus bought for me on Calvary!
- J. M. Farro