Sharing Each Other’s Burdens to Win the Battle in Life

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Dr. Hrangthan Chhungi, Director, Church Relations and Resource Mobilisation.

For our short reflection, let us turn to Exodus 17:8-16. The story in this text talks about the wilderness journey and struggles of the people of Israel under the leadership of Moses at Rephidim. When the Israelites were holding their journey at Rephidim, all of a sudden, the Amalekites came and attacked them. The Amalekites were members of an ancient nomadic tribe, or collection of tribes. In the Old Testament they are described as relentless enemies of Israel, even though they were closely related to Ephraim, one of the 12 tribes of Israel, and are believed to have descended from a common ancestor named Amalek, a grandson of Esau. In this sense, they may be considered as one of the Edomite tribes.  The district over which they ranged was south of Judah and probably extended into northern Arabia.

When the descendants of Jacob/Israel came out from the slavery of Egypt along with the others towards the land of Palestine, where once their ancestors, starting from Abraham lived, many a time their lives were in danger. Sometimes they suffered from scarcity of food and water. Yet, the faithfulness of God never ceased. This time as found in Exodus 17:8-16, their lives were in great danger from the attack of the very strong and great warriors, the Amalekites. Moses, the leader of the Israelites, quickly chalked out a battle plan by asking his right-hand man Joshua to choose  strong men to fight back the Amalekites. With the intention to oversee the battle from the hilltop, (some commentators say the Mount Sinai) with his most powerful weapon “the Staff of God in his hands” Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill and stationed there.

The Israelites and the Amalekites fought the fierce battle with equal strength. Joshua was on the battleground and Moses on the hilltop with an aerial view of the battleground. Moses lifted his Staff high with his hands, as long as Moses’ hands were up the Israelites were winning but the moment his hands became weak and he could not hold up, the Amalekites won. From this point the story takes a different turn, Moses’ closest aides Aaron and Hur realized who their supreme leader was and the action needed for that moment:-

  1. Moses needed support even though he is their supreme leader.
  2. Moses needed help even though “the Staff of God was in his hands”.
  3. Moses was not a magician but an ordinary human being like them.
  4. Moses needed a strong foundation to support his aching legs and arms, literally.
  5. Certain battles are fought together, each contributing within their capacity.

When Aaron and Hur figured out that the winning of the battle depended on them joining hands, they made Moses sit down on a ‘rock’ and ‘held’ both the hands of Moses up until the war was won by Joshua and his armies. Finally, together they had won the battle.

This battle story helps us to ponder upon our Christian life and duty even as we meditate on our faith journey. Christians are meant to support each other in our journey of life. Galatians 6:2: says “Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ”.  No one is an island, therefore no one can do things alone. Each one needs a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold on to, a friend to trust and a family to get support from when life’s boat is sinking with burdens we cannot handle alone. Let me pause with this question, Why God did not strengthen Moses’s hands until the battle is won? The climax clearly states that “Yahweh is my Banner” (Ex 17:15). When the battle was won Moses waved the flag of Yahweh, their only God, King, and commander. Moses did not win the battle alone.  God wants to reveal that by carrying each other’s burdens the hardest battle in life can be won.  The Christian life is meant to be this way.  Supporting each other in times of crises in the workplace, society, church and family, as Jesus Christ rightly said in Matthew 5:6 “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”, thereby “Yahweh Banner is held high”

Often, the battle in life is hard to win when we fight alone. As the Psalmist says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46). The reality is that in our difficult times, God promises to be our refuge. When buildings crumble due to war, and our world is shaken due to pandemics, sickness, and socio-religious violence, our God has never failed us. We should allow ourselves to be the instrument of God by sharing each other’s burdens just like Aaron and Hur did for Moses. When we do have the opportunity to help someone and do it rightly, “The Banner of God” is held high. Though we cannot solve all the world’s problems, we can be a positive force in the lives of those we encounter to win the battle in life.

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