There is a scripture that has stuck in my mind of late:
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
In General Conference, one of the dominant themes I heard was this idea of helping and caring for those around us. It seemed to be everywhere. A few weeks later, I went to my home Stake Priesthood meeting. In that meeting, President Rasmussen talked about how he hoped that no one would ever heard to say, “I asked for help, and no one came.” Both messages/themes reminded of this scripture again.
I think the things that really stick out to me are the following passages:
- are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light
- mourn with those that mourn
- comfort those that stand in need of comfort
- stand as witnesses of God
One of the comments I hear quite often is that people don’t know how to help or that they aren’t sure that they are helping. Each of those passages speaks to how we can better help, support, and love the many who are suffering around us, and I think they serve as a good benchmark of where we are at in our desire to be within the fold of God (see vs 10).
Willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light
The first passage to me speaks of concern for those around us built on genuine selflessness. As I think back over the trials of my life, I recognize many times where I truly felt that someone was coming to my aid out of nothing more than a willingness to lift me, not themselves. I felt that they were concerned with me, not with themselves. Because of that, the service rendered was effective, enabling, and enlightening for me. Probably for the server as well. Looking to the Savior, I envision this being the Savior sitting on the mount feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and a few fishes. His concern was for their welfare, the hunger they surely felt, and the physical needs that were probably dominant in their minds. Miracle though it is, His actions speak to a willingness to take a real burden from another.
Mourn with those that mourn
This is the one that, I think has touched me deepest. Again with the trials of my life, I know plenty of people who are willing to be a shoulder to cry on. I know plenty who were willing to hear but not act. And I’m sorry, but that hurts sometimes. I often don’t need or want someone to cry on as much as I want someone to cry with. I think back to when Grandma died. We were so very far away, and mom was so very sad and lonely for it. She was in her room crying and the rest of the family was hiding from the moment, giving her peace. But I knew in my heart that mom didn’t need the solitude. I also knew that she didn’t need someone to cry on. She needed someone to share the hurt and the tears. Grandma was always special to me. I used to call her my grandma, as though she weren’t grandma to anyone else. And I knew that because of that, I could cry with her. So I did.
I think of Jesus crying with his beloved disciples Mary and Martha as they mourned over Lazarus. Even knowing what He knew, that Lazarus was soon to walk again, here was a Man who understood that the tears matter. Here was a Savior who knew that sometimes the mourning, the tears, and the grief is an experience to share, not to merely bear. Here is an Example who knew that to understand and love often means to descend to the depths of the grief and lift rather than to stay on the surface and pull.
And for me, I think this is what I long for the most as I go through whatever trials and hurts and pains. I don’t want someone to say it’ll be okay. I don’t want that shoulder. I want someone to understand to such a depth that they can do nothing else but mourn with me. The love and unity I feel for the few who can descend so far is beyond mere love. It’s the deepest trust and intimacy, and it is far too rarely shared. It’s full vulnerability and acceptance and believe in the healing power of those around us.
And I mourn that so few are capable of being so powerful.
Comfort those that stand in need of comfort
This speaks of the need we all face and the blindness of the offer. The Savior served the sinners, the publicans, the despised. He reached out to the leprous, to the woman caught in adultery, to the Samaritan. He saw not color, age, size, or status, but He did see hurt. He saw guilt and wiped it away. He saw temptation and lifted it. He saw pain and offered relief.
How often do we choose to not share the gift of comfort because we don’t know the person? Or because we’re scared of how they look?
I remember once sitting in a room filled with a thousand people feeling utterly and completely alone. How was that even possible? The Savior didn’t sit back and wait for someone to come to Him although that often happened. He was proactive in helping, loving, and comforting those around Him.
I asked Katherine many years ago how Jesus would respond should He see a kid crash on a bike. Her first words have stuck with me forever: First, He would run as fast as He could…. I can guess the rest of what she said, but I honestly don’t remember. I do, however, remember the image of that Running Savior rushing to the aid of the unknown and unnamed child. We should, too.
Stand as witnesses of God
As I think of this final passage, I see the bow tying it all together. Reading the passage at other times, I’ve always assumed this had more to do with taking on us the name of Christ and keeping His commandments. While I still think that, I had the thought tonight that perhaps this means being who He would be, standing as though we were God Himself. The truth is that God uses those around us to do His work and provide that comfort and help. Perhaps it would help you to recognize that when you comfort or when you mourn or when you lift burdens, you aren’t necessarily who those we serve are seeing. Perhaps they are seeing Him. At least, perhaps they are seeing His light.
John 15:13 reads: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
The greatest love I have ever known is in the arms of someone who is truly listening to me, hearing me, feeling the depth of the burdens. Rarely is that person fixing the burden. Rarely is that person offering advice. Rarely do they even speak. But they do lift, they do mourn with me, they comfort, and when they’ve done all that, it’s easy to see in their acts and their behavior a Godlike light and feeling.
I hope that as we serve, love, and care for our fellow man, we will realize that so little of what really helps has any basis in what we are instinctively wanting to do. He showed us how to serve, how to love, how to lift.