burden: chained by circumstance but freed by grace

burden - chained by circumstance, freed by grace @poetryjoy.com

There are days when our burdens, be they physical or emotional, become impossible to ignore. Days when we feel consumed by the weight of them. Chained to our hard circumstances. Dragged down into a dark place.

I prefer not to talk too much about having chronic illness, although it’s an inescapable fact that faces me each day. It demands enough. It has stolen too much. So much that I tend to want to ignore its presence and pretend I am fine, doing okay, even when I’m not.

It feels better to plaster a smile on my face and seek to maintain a positive outlook on life. It seems less bothersome, less of a burden to fight the good fight of faith and try not to yield to dismay. Or give in to self-pity.

But sometimes? Sometimes I am just too tired to fight against the pain. Sometimes I just want to sit and cry. Sometimes I lose sight of my loving Saviour sitting in the ashes with me, holding out His hands to receive.

Because God doesn’t want us to bear our burdens alone. He longs for us to turn to Him. To offer up our pain and problems like a fragrant thing. Because sometimes it’s truthfully all we are able to give to Him. And that’s okay. It really is.


fear nibbles at the edges of her soul, like a rat
aboard a sinking ship that leaks, lists and tips
because she has woken to face yet another
pain filled day, unrefreshed in every way

her spirits are plummeting fast and her heart
contracts as she thinks about the future, for
she longs above anything else not to become
a burden to others or to those she loves

during these days of increasing debility
and weariness, she can often forget
just who she should be handing all her
heavy burdens over to—until he speaks

with whispered reassurance in his voice
to her hurting soul—while he pours the balm
of hope into her heart, forcing fear and
discouragement to flee, and she falls

further, on bended knee, when Jesus
tenderly reminds her once again that
every burden handed over to him will
not only lessen the load on her soul

it will also miraculously transmute
into a blessing by faith, shaping her
perception, if not her situation in life

and so she prays, tears welling up in her
eyes, and she gives praise like a willing
sacrifice—in spite of nothing visible yet

taking place, she has already tasted his
goodness and grace, and sensed the difference
inside, where calm and peace now abide
© joylenton

We might not feel like it but we can learn to praise God in the storm, sense His presence with us and gain comfort in knowing we are not alone.

I’m so grateful for God’s grace in my life. His comforting embrace. His enabling when I am weak. For words coming when I feel drained and dry. And for being able to share my 5 minute(ish) poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday crew. This week’s prompt is “burden” and you can join your words here. 

burden - #FMF - burden poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

21 thoughts on “burden: chained by circumstance but freed by grace

  1. So beautiful, Joy. Such precious truth. Our only true burden bearer. Jesus, the sacrifice of praise at work in us pouring forth worship where we least expect to be able to give it. I am so sorry you have to bear so much pain daily. May God continue to pour out His anointing on you- you are such a gift of encouragement right in the midst of all the awful hard you are walking through. Praying for you tonight. May the balm of our LORD bring relief in your pain and sweet rest in His arms tonight.

    • Anna, I think worship stems naturally from a broken heart, body or life, once we know the One who holds, comforts, saves, heals and pieces us back together again. Then we cannot help but pour forth worship on being found worthy by Him. My pain pales into seeming insignificance in comparison to all that Jesus went through for us. Though I know God hurts with us and doesn’t want us to suffer. And He alone can bring beauty out of the ashes. Your prayers are deeply appreciated, my friend! Thank you for caring and battling on my behalf. 💟💜

  2. Lovely Joy! It’s brilliant to run into you on Five Minute Friday. I always admire your positive attitude to chronic illness and your poetic wisdom. Thanks for telling it how it is. Solidarity, sister

    • Tanya, it’s a joy to welcome you here! I’m so glad our paths have crossed in the Five Minute Friday link up and I’m sorry to have lost touch with you in the blogosphere. You understand the struggles of having M.E more than most, and I deeply admire your ability to seek justice for those who find it hard to be taken seriously or supported by society. It’s awe inspiring. I hope your recent relocation hasn’t sapped you too much.
      I try to participate in #FMF as often as I am able to. The last few prompts have wrung some intensely personal poetry out of me. Although I would prefer to write about other topics than pain, illness, shame and past abuse, those things are still pretty close to the surface and emerge if given the right nudge. Going with Holy Spirit’s flow doesn’t necessarily produce the kind of poetry I would prefer to write!
      By the way, I have recently retrieved Those Who Wait from the depths of my Kindle and earmarked it as my main read during Advent. I might even get round to writing a review for you at last! Hope so. I’ve always loved your way with words. Solidarity, sister! 😊💜

  3. Dear Joy,
    Again, your words have gone straight to my heart. I am so sorry for the pain that you bear, but I am so thankful that Jesus has brought words from within your deep places to express what so many of us feel. It is in that “gritting my teeth” kind of living where Jesus so often meets me too, “Because God doesn’t want us to bear our burdens alone. He longs for us to turn to Him. To offer up our pain and problems like a fragrant thing. Because sometimes it’s truthfully all we are able to give to Him. And that’s okay. It really is.” And it has been such an eye-opening process for me to realize that He can and does view my offering of my pain & problems as a fragrant thing! Oh what a precious Lord He is, to bring us His calm and peace right there. Thank you my dear friend for opening your heart, and calling us to join you at the feet of Jesus. You are such a blessing. Love & Hugs to you! xoxo

    • Dear Bettie, I thought this post would probably speak to you as a sister in suffering. You know firsthand how debilitating pain can be and how much we need God’s mercy and grace. Wouldn’t it be simpler if we were to turn to God at an earlier stage, instead of gritting our teeth and trying to bear it?! That’s a typically stoic response but not always a wise one! It’s taken me years to understand I don’t have to wait until I have prettied up my life, sorted myself out and got my act together before offering who I am to God. He already knows us inside out and accepts us just as we are. God also wants to be intimately involved with the process of our growth and change, every step of the way. It’s a relief to finally see those things, isn’t it? Thank you for your encouragement and support, dear friend. You bless me so much too. Love and grateful hugs! xoxo

  4. Oh, Joy, this is so beautiful! It expresses your pain but then the peace that comes as you give the burden to Jesus. The circumstances don’t change but the outlook does. He is the only one who can give us that assurance and peace. Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear sister! xoxo

    • Oh, Gayl, your words here succinctly sum up my whole blog post: “The circumstances don’t change but the outlook does.” Yes, God alone can give us that assurance and peace. And it’s such a beautiful gift! Blessings, love and hugs to you too, dear sister! xoxo

  5. This is so beautiful, Joy. Thank you for being honest about the weight of chronic illness. It really can get discouraging. Thank you, too, for these hope-filled thoughts that Jesus is sitting right there in the ashes with us and longing for us to hand over our burdens to Him. I love that sweet picture of His love and tenderness towards us. May God give us more and more grace to praise Him in the midst of the storms of life! Love and hugs to you!

    • You’re right, Trudy, it is a weight, one that can drag us down some days. And when it does it can be hard to remember to lift our eyes and look to God. Yet in the reaching out we soon discover Jesus has accompanied us all along and just wants to lift either the weightiness or the burden itself from us. Such grace! Amen to your prayer. May it be so, Lord. Love and hugs to you too! xo 💜

      • Those days aren’t much fun, are they? None of us likes the reminder of the passing years, aches and pains and losing strength or ease of mobility. Thankfully, my worst days are offset by times of lessening fatigue, pain and stiffness, which are a blessing and a gift. And in a strange way, with medication to dull the intensity, one tends to get used to a certain level of discomfort as a new “normal” over the years. What I miss most is the ability to walk more than a few halting steps, or dance or run. But what I love about my life is how God provides a spacious place in which my soul can thrive and grow. Deeper dependence on God, with more time to still, pause, pray and meditate are gifts only found in life’s dark places. Hidden treasure indeed! ❤

    • Indeed there is, Becky. It’s from that position of recognising our limitations that we begin to see how it sets us free from pride and self-reliance, as we lean harder on God in our daily lives. Bless you, dear friend! xo 💜

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