Accumulate. It’s a dangerous little word that is employed to describe gently falling snow or the harmless growth of lint on the top bookshelf. But those things that slowly accumulate can become merciless blizzards or a horde of cascading dust bunnies.
What the Bible calls “trials and tribulations” accumulate, too. A setback. A disappointment. A protracted illness. A wayward child. Deep, wordless pain. Without a sound, the weariness of life gathers until one day a look out the window reveals drifts the size of sand dunes crushing against the soul.
And sometimes it’s not the accumulation of various difficulties that grows so heavy; it’s the accumulation of time. A load that was once manageable becomes impossible to bear if it is carried too long. A case in point: consider the familiar case of the weighted water bottle.
Take in your hand a water bottle. It weighs very little. How long can you hold it in your outstretched arm? A few minutes and you won’t be aware of the weight. Hold it for an hour and you will develop pain, tremors, and weakness. Hold it for hours on end and you will end up in need of a chiropractor or orthopedist. The bottle’s weight, over time, will break down even the strongest person.
All of us suffer from accumulation: The accumulation of hardships or the accumulation of time—what we used to bear with ease, is now too much. What do we do then? Some of us have been taught to tough it out. Others are taught to ignore it.
So caught between comforters who offer no comfort and burdens that cannot be unburdened, those who suffer usually go crazy, grow numb, or give up. They suffer in silence, the accumulating pain gathering oh so steadily, until they break. But in the breaking is the deliverance.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens.” Obviously, he was offering more than harsh motivation or disparaging clichés. He was speaking to those who needed actual relief. “I will give you rest for your souls,” he said.
Quite simply, when one has been sufficiently broken—cracked open by life’s experiences—then the relief and redemption they so desperately need will be there waiting for them. As Leonard Cohen wrote, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” And that’s exactly how accumulated burdens get lifted.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.