How to Bear One Another's Burdens: Katy Parker
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
1 Corinthian 2:2
I can remember sitting down in Starbucks with a long-time friend and catching up about our lives. We have been friends for years, through many seasons of life. We rarely get together these days. This was a particularly rare moment in which we were able to sit down and talk without kids interrupting every two minutes. In this conversation, my friend quickly went deep to see how I was doing. At the time, I was struggling. I was exhausted, pregnant, and intense fear was taking hold in my heart. I really hadn’t shared this with anyone except my husband. This friend somehow knew that I was having a hard time. She started asking questions, encouraging me, and speaking Gospel truth into my life. This was such a breath of fresh air that I wanted to cry…I probably did.
I think that all of us desire that kind of relationship with the women in our lives. We tend to gravitate to women who can encourage us and strengthen us. If you haven’t found it, you may be looking for it. Some of you may have found your tribe, your person, your sisterhood. Our hearts long for this community of believers that can know us and encourage us. They can walk along side of us. Help carry the burden when we are defeated. But when it is time for us to go along side and carry the burden for others, many feel like they are at a loss. They don’t know how to help.
How can I help my friend in a bad marriage?
What do I do when someone I care about experiences trauma?
Can I encourage a sister who is anxious and depressed?
What if I say or do the wrong thing?
Let’s start at the foundation. As children of God, we have been given a marvelous gift: God’s Word. “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). This means that we can stand firm in the truth of Scripture to shape our ministry to one another. God’s Word is the surest foundation in which we as believers can stand. It is the standard to which we hold all things.
“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) God’s Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE! These verses are not passive words on a page to be recited on Sunday. We are reading the very WORD of GOD. It doesn’t just speak about true things…IT IS TRUTH. Do not underestimate the power of the truth or the power of these words.
You and I may not be able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. We may not be able to see what motivates others or identify the root of the problem. But God can! And He has given us His Word to pierce the soul and spirit to bring that to light.
God has given us His Word to use to minister to one another. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3) For some reason, we have relegated the ministering of the Word to the “professionals.” We believe that we have experts in place to teach us about the Bible and to speak truth. The funny thing is that this is not what the Bible teaches us. Pastors and church leaders are biblical. They are put in place to shepherd the church, but discipling people in the church is the responsibility of everyone. God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We are a priesthood of believers. We are all called to minister the Word of God to one another.
You may be asking yourself “How do I do this? How do I help women who are hurting?”
1. Be Prepared. “…be ready in season and out of season…” 2 Timothy 3:2
We have established that the Bible is essential in ministering to people around us, but the truth about ministry is that you have to expect the unexpected. You do not know when a loved one will die. You cannot anticipate when a friend will open up about abuse in their past. Significant emotions can be triggered by everyday events. We need to be in the Bible daily: studying, meditating, and memorizing. Be ready to give Gospel hope. Allow God to use what He is teaching you to be an encouragement to others.
2. Listen. “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…” (James 1:19) Many times when we are sitting with someone who is hurting, we worry about what to say. We become consumed by trying to come up with the right thing to say that we forget to listen and understand. We even fall into the habit of assuming that we understand what someone is feeling for whatever reason. We need to remember that people react to experiences differently. If anything, we need to develop the art of asking questions. Not an interrogation, but as a genuine desire for understanding. Listening lays the foundation for you to be able to speak into someone’s life.
3. Bring Gospel Hope. “But God…” (Ephesians 2:4) That phrase contains the most hope-filled words in the Bible. You were dead in your trespasses…but God. You were following the course of this world…but God. You were carrying out the desires of the body and mind…but God. But God made us alive together with Christ. What good news that is for us! The community around us needs hope. The world seems bleak and dreary. The pain is real. Our sins seem insurmountable. We are not without hope, and we should minister that hope to our sisters in Christ.
4. Pray. “We have not ceased to pray for you…” (Colossians 1:9). We need to move beyond the trite sentiment. Don’t just say that you will pray for her. You need to actually pray for her. Pray right then with her. Pray in your quiet times. Pray when you call to check in on her.
So many become paralyzed by fear of saying the wrong thing. There is wisdom in carefully selecting your words, but you can’t let that fear keep you from obediently ministering to the women around you. God has placed you in community for a purpose: your sanctification and the sanctification of the people around you. You will probably say something foolish, but we serve a God who uses us the foolish, the weak, and the unlikely for His glory. Let’s walk in obedience, trusting God’s ability to not just redeem our sins, but to redeem our foolishness for His glory.
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Katy Parker is originally from New Mexico. She came to Southeastern in 2009 to complete her MDiv in Biblical Counseling. While she was in seminary, she met and married Jesse Parker, who is now a PhD student and the Director of Student Resources and Financial Aid. Katy graduated in 2014 and recently came on staff at the seminary as the Student Life counselor for women. They have two kids, Lottie (3 years) and Logan (11 months). The Parkers are members at Vision Church in Raleigh where Jesse serves as an elder.