You “promised to help!” “My message to you tonight is that you can be an important part of His giving comfort to those who need comfort.” The words of President Henry B. Eyring’s address at the Women’s Session of LDS General Conference keep echoing in my mind and in my heart. Our lives here in mortality are not all about us. We have been asked of the Lord to be unselfish, caring, and concerned for others. We are asked to look around us at the trials and difficulties so many carry, and try to help them at each opportunity we have. Why? Because as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have covenanted to do so.
President Eyring’s message was all about “lifting burdens.” One of the most powerful reminders of this is in The Book of Mormon where the prophet Alma has come to baptize new members of the Church. The prophet knew when any desire baptism, there is a change in their thoughts and desires that prompts them to do good. Alma counsels and asks them to act on those promptings as part of the covenant they will be under after the ordinance is performed. President Eyring quoted:
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 (Mosiah 18:8-9).
Reminding us all that even good people who are righteous have trials and heavy burdens they sometimes have to bear, he told us “many are praying to Heavenly Father for relief.” When he spoke those words, I started to think of those in my own home ward who are having extreme challenges—unfathomable physical trials and pains to suffer that would test and try some of the strongest of people. These wonderful individuals have hearts of gold, and yes, they are both good and righteous. It is human nature to ask, “Why do they, or I, or anyone else have to go through such a refiner’s fire?” The reality is it was designed this way by Heavenly Father. The process and purpose of mortality is to overcome any trouble, burden, or difficulty. That was His plan from the beginning. Life is a trial and test—sometimes for even the very elect.
My heart was pricked by the message of President Eyring. I started to recall some of the lines of one of our hymns, “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?”—specifically these lines: “Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there? (Hymn #223) Then my mind started to think of the times I wasn’t there. I thought of the visiting teaching visits that were set by the wayside for other things. I thought of phone calls that could have been made, casseroles that went unbaked for those in need, and it went on and on. That is what prophets, seers, and revelators like President Eyring can do—call us to repentance and ask us like Christ would ask us to try to be more than we currently are. Surely I can do better, as most likely we all can do better.
The relief of burdens just isn’t resigned to the physically sick, however. There are those with emotional trials that need care, as well. Sometimes we can get the pervasive thought that all our service has to be elaborate and massive, and if it isn’t, then it isn’t enough. In my experience, nothing could be farther from the truth. Perhaps all a person needs to lift the burden of another is to offer a smile or comforting words such as, “I’m sorry you have to endure such a thing.” Nothing fancy at all, but simple.
Christ is our pattern to follow. Elder Eyring stated, “One of the attributes of the Savior we most appreciate is His infinite compassion.” He mentioned that Christ was so compassionate that He thought of how his disciples would feel after His crucifixion. President Eyring said Christ knew they would “grieve,” and “that they would fear for their future—uncertain of their capacities to move forward.” Isn’t that how any of us feel when we are distraught and sorrowful? Yet He knew what to send them to comfort them, and that was a “New Comforter,” or the Holy Ghost.” As members of the Church, we have that Gift of the Holy Ghost given to us at baptism. When we feel we don’t have the capacity to help others as we should or want to, He sends us the Holy Ghost. The Comforter is sent to us to give us the strength and the confidence so we can serve as we’ve been asked to do.
One of the more tender moments in President Eyring’s talk was when he referred to seeing the miracle of comfort that the Holy Ghost can bring for himself. He recalled a recent visit with parents who had lost a five-year-old boy through an accident on a summer vacation. He said he knew from the discussion with them that they had already been receiving an outpouring of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. They testified they knew the Lord lived and that they also with certainty knew they would be with their son again in the eternities.
A young mother who was attending this same little boy’s funeral met President Eying outside the chapel before going in. She told him that she had recently lost a child of her own—her first child. She said she had come that day because she wanted to be of support and to “mourn and give comfort if she could” to the family. She also stated she came “in part for comfort for myself.” President Eyring noticed a new little baby girl in her arms. He asked this young mother the name of the baby, to which she responded, “Her name is Joy. Joy always comes after sorrow.” There were some audible sighs (and no doubt a few tears), when he recounted this story. President Eyring gave us a spiritual feast. You could tell, even listening on a computer as I did, that the Spirit of the Holy Ghost was definitely there.