We all have stresses and burdens in our daily lives. Whether it is school or work or just the trials of life, we carry much on our shoulders. Some of us carry our own loads and some of us carry loads that we share with others health problems, personal family issues, financial dilemmas, marital discord, employment troubles, and the list could go on. These burdens that we bear can be heavy. In fact, most of us may say that at one time or another, they feel too great to bear.
But, in the chapter of al-Baqarah, Allah promises us that we will never have to carry a burden greater than we can bear. So why then do we feel as if the burden is too heavy to carry? Why do we feel as if we had the weight of the world on our shoulders and as if we had more than our share of worries and woes?
We feel this way not because of the weight of the burden, but rather the way we carry it.
Bend at the knees
When we physically carry heavy loads in our arms, we are always told to `bend at the knees' to avoid breaking our backs and injuring our necks. There is great wisdom in taking care to make sure that something is done with our own best interest at heart, and not just done in order to be a task simply completed. Likewise, a burden simply carried but with little or no care or concern for our own well-being makes just as little or no sense. In a short amount of time, one would `burn out' and be of much less use to the same people that we were intending to help in the first place. So, a burden carried on our shoulders should be carried with care as well, otherwise it could similarly become a `pain in the neck', if you will. In other words, a burden on its own is not such a pain but a mere responsibility; but a burden that is not carried well becomes a pain, a hassle that one harbors reluctantly.
No matter how heavy our burden, if we carry it with confidence and self-respect, we can handle the weight of it and carry it to fruition or to the point that it needs to be carried. Sometimes this weight that we carry is for a short period and sometimes it is longer; whatever the duration, our outlook determines in large part the outcome. The way that we handle any situation determines how that situation can end. Think about many of the burdens that you may have in your life at this very moment.
The way you see them can have a huge impact on the way they affect your life. If you think they are enormous, they probably feel that way.
If you imagine that It is the end of the world,' it probably feels as if the world was about to come crashing down on you.
Instead, if we can remember at times like this that there is no such thing as a burden too great, we can take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we can handle it. We have to remember that Allah knows what we can handle. After all, He created us and thus knows better than anyone else what we can and cannot handle.
Pulling our own weight
In remembering this, it would be better for us to handle our responsibilities not with complaints and grouchiness but with self-restraint and grace. The burdens placed on our shoulders should not weigh us down to the point of immobility. Instead, we can think of them as challenges that we can learn to face and overcome. The reality is that, no matter how bad it is, there is always someone out there who has it harder than us. Maybe we can't see that person when we need to, but we need to know that this reality exists and that our own burdens arc meant for us. Another's could be much worse.
All of the burdens that we have are a test from Allah—we know that already. What we sometimes forget is how to handle those burdens. Usually we complain about everything that is ‘going wrong’ in our lives. If we can change our outlook and balance those burdens with a stronger back and with a more positive attitude, we will see that the burden is not as heavy as the reward for being grateful for those things that we have in our lives that are going well.