Bent Beneath Their Loads


It was almost a daily sight: young men bent beneath large bundles of trash and material to be recycled into some usable product. In Phnom Penh there would be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men, women & children who were tasked with pulling carts up and down streets looking for recyclable material. Sometimes, children, too young to work, (which had to be very young), had to ride in the carts as their mom, dad, or siblings pulled them around the city. This material then would be bundled up and sold to the recycling plant. I was always amazed by the slight build of the Khmer young men in contrast to the size of the bundle on their back. Bent over, they worked incessantly for meager wages.

The Physical Helps Us Understand the Spiritual

Today I feel like that image in my mind. I feel a bit under the weather, and the weather is lousy outside right now, and I feel very listless when it comes to direction for our family. Everyone in our family has a normal routine: school, employment, after school activities, chores, etc…except me. I feel as if I am slogging in a mixture of marshmallow and molasses. I desperately want to see the next step. And all this burdens me more than I can communicate. Doesn’t God understand my personality?

I feel like those Khmer young men as they see another large truck approaching piled high with bales of recyclable material. Perhaps it late in the afternoon, the sun is relentless, and they’ve only eaten a small amount of rice, fish or some sort of fruit. Lacking energy and motivation, they accept their lot in life, walk over to the truck, turn their back to it and accept the burden on their back that will bend them over until they deliver it in the storehouse.

I do understand that I am still processing this whole series of events in my life and dealing with reverse culture shock in a myriad of ways. (And culture shock / reverse culture shock doesn’t have to be big & dramatic). Thanks to the advice of a friend, I have purchased a copy of The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti. I am filling it with underlining and stars because it is revealing so much of what I am dealing with.

I also find more time for reading God’s Word. Today I was in Psalm 3 and bounced around a bit as I read a verse that sparked some encouragement:

Ps.3:5 – I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. (nas)

The word “sustains” is what caught my attention. I did a quick word search on it in Psalms and ended up in Psalm 145, verse 14:

The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. (nlt)

The word “sustains” is located in that first phrase where we see the Lord helping the fallen. I asked, “Why did they fall?” Perhaps it’s because of the second phrase – they are “bent beneath their loads”.

I don’t know what our future is. I don’t understand some of the happenings within our family’s dynamic.

I. don’t. know. what. to. do.

I feel like I’m dragging the ground under the load. Some days I feel like I’ve fallen and not contributing very well. But I take courage in truths like what I read today. Yes, I suppose that part of what I’m experiencing can be brushed off just as transitional emotions. But I’m betting that there is a greater reason for what I feel. Just like those Khmer young men that would work tirelessly throughout the month, receiving their pay (no matter how meager at the end of the month), I, too, will someday be rewarded for persevering under the load God has placed upon me.

I may be falling and bent beneath the load, but know this: the Lord is sustaining me – helping me up when I fall and lifting me when I am so bent beneath the load that I feel that I cannot continue. He knows the plans that he has for me – plans for good and not disaster; plans for a future and a hope. I can trust him.


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