That Your Burdens May Be Light   Leave a comment

That Your Burdens May Be Light

Elder L. Whitney Clayton
Of the Presidency of the Seventy
Burdens provide opportunities to practice virtues that contribute to eventual perfection.
Elder L. Whitney ClaytonManyyears ago I walked at dawn through the narrow cobblestone streets ofCusco, Peru, high in the Andes Mountains. I saw a man from a localindigenous group walking down one of the streets. He was not a big manphysically, but he carried an immense load of firewood in a huge burlapsack on his back. The sack seemed to be as big as he was. The load musthave weighed as much as he did. He steadied it with a rope that loopedunder the bottom of the sack and circled up around his forehead. Hegripped the rope tightly on both sides of his head. He kept a rag onhis forehead underneath the rope to keep it from cutting into his skin.He leaned forward under his burden and walked with deliberate,difficult steps.

The man was carrying the firewood to the marketplace, where itwould be sold. In an average day he might make just two or threeround-trips across the town to deliver similarly awkward, heavy loads.
The memory of him bent forward, struggling down the street hasbecome increasingly meaningful for me with the passage of years. Howlong could he continue to carry such burdens?

Life presses all kinds of burdens on each of us, some light butothers relentless and heavy. People struggle every day under burdensthat tax their souls. Many of us struggle under such burdens.They can be emotionally or physically ponderous. They can be worrisome,oppressive, and exhausting. And they can continue for years.

In a general sense, our burdens come from three sources. Someburdens are the natural product of the conditions of the world in whichwe live. Illness, physical disability, hurricanes, and earthquakes comefrom time to time through no fault of our own. We can prepare for theserisks and sometimes we can predict them, but in the natural pattern oflife we will all confront some of these challenges.

Other burdens are imposed on us by the misconduct of others. Abuseand addictions can make home anything but a heaven on earth forinnocent family members. Sin, incorrect traditions, repression, andcrime scatter burdened victims along the pathways of life. Evenless-serious misdeeds such as gossip and unkindness can cause othersgenuine suffering.

Our own mistakes and shortcomings produce many of our problems andcan place heavy burdens on our own shoulders. The most onerous burdenwe impose upon ourselves is the burden of sin. We have all known theremorse and pain which inevitably follow our failure to keep thecommandments.

No matter the burdens we face in life as a consequence of naturalconditions, the misconduct of others, or our own mistakes andshortcomings, we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, who sentus to earth as part of His eternal plan for our growth and progress.Our unique individual experiences can help us prepare to return to Him.The adversity and afflictions that are ours, however difficult to bear,last, from heaven’s perspective, for “but a small moment; and then, if[we] endure it well, God shall exalt [us] on high.”1 We must do everything we can to bear our burdens “well” for however long our “small moment” carrying them lasts.
Burdens provide opportunities to practice virtues that contributeto eventual perfection. They invite us to yield “to the enticings ofthe Holy Spirit, and [put] off the natural man and [become] a saintthrough the atonement of Christ the Lord, and [become] as a child,submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit toall things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as achild doth submit to his father.”2Thus burdens become blessings, though often such blessings are welldisguised and may require time, effort, and faith to accept andunderstand. Four examples may help explain this:

  • First, Adam was told, “Cursed shall be the ground for thysake,” which meant for his benefit, and “by the sweat of thy face shaltthou eat bread.”3 Work is a continual burden, but it is also a continual blessing “for [our] sake,” for it teaches lessons we can learn only “by the sweat of [our] face.”
  • Second, Alma observed that the poverty and “afflictions [of the pooramong the Zoramites] had truly humbled them, and that they were in apreparation to hear the word.”4 He added, “Because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye.”5 Our economic challenges may help prepare us to hear the word of the Lord.
  • Third, because of the “exceedingly great length of [their] war,” manyNephites and Lamanites “were softened because of their afflictions,insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depthof humility.”6Political unrest, social disorder, and, in some areas of the world,modern Gadianton robbers may humble us and motivate us to seek heavenlyshelter from societal storms.
  • Fourth,Joseph Smith was told that the terrible things he suffered for years atthe hands of his enemies would “give [him] experience, and . . . be for[his] good.”7The suffering we experience through the offenses of others is avaluable, though painful, school for improving our own behavior.

Further, bearing up under our own burdens can help us develop areservoir of empathy for the problems others face. The Apostle Paultaught that we should “bear . . . one another’s burdens, and so fulfilthe law of Christ.”8Accordingly, our baptismal covenants require that we should be “willingto bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; yea, and [be]willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those thatstand in need of comfort.”9

Keeping our baptismal covenants helps relieve our own burdens as well as those of burdened souls we serve.10 Those who offer such assistance to others stand on holy ground. In explaining this, the Savior taught:
“When saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,ye have done it unto me.”11

Through it all, the Savior offers us sustaining strength andsupport, and in His own time and way, He offers deliverance. When Almaand his followers escaped from the armies of King Noah, theyestablished a community named Helam. They began to till the ground,build buildings, and prosper.12 Without warning, an army of the Lamanites brought them into bondage, and “none could deliver them but the Lord their God.”13 That deliverance, however, did not come immediately.
Their enemies began to “put tasks upon them, and put taskmasters over them.”14 Although they were threatened with death for praying,15 Alma and his people “did pour out their hearts to [God]; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.”16 Because of their goodness and their obedience to their baptismal covenants,17 they were delivered in stages. The Lord said to them:
“I will . . . ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders,that . . . you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are inbondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for mehereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, dovisit my people in their afflictions.
“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Almaand his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen themthat they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submitcheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
“And it came to pass that so great was their faith and theirpatience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be ofgood comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.”18
Mercifully, the Son of God offers us deliverance from the bondageof our sins, which are among the heaviest of all the burdens we bear.During His Atonement He suffered “according to the flesh that he mighttake upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out theirtransgressions according to the power of his deliverance.”19 Christ “suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent.”20When we repent and keep the commandments, forgiveness and relief fromour burdened conscience come with the help that only the Savior offers,for “surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy.”21
I remember that man in Peru, hunched over and struggling to carrythat enormous sack of firewood on his back. For me, he is an image ofus all as we struggle with the burdens of life. I know that as we keepthe commandments of God and our covenants, He helps us with ourburdens. He strengthens us. When we repent, He forgives us and blessesus with peace of conscience and joy.22 May we then submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. D&C 121:7–8.
2. Mosiah 3:19.
3. Moses 4:23, 25.
4. Alma 32:6.
5. Alma 32:13.
6. Alma 62:41.
7. D&C 122:7.
8. Galatians 6:2.
9. Mosiah 18:8–9.
10. See Matthew 10:39; 11:28–30; Mosiah 2:22.
11. See Matthew 25:35–40.
12. See Mosiah 23:5, 19–20.
13. See Mosiah 23:23–26.
14. Mosiah 24:9.
15. See Mosiah 24:10–11.
16. Mosiah 24:12.
17. See Mosiah 18:8–10; 24:13.
18. Mosiah 24:14–16.
19. Alma 7:13.
20. D&C 19:16.
21. Alma 32:13.
22. See Mosiah 4:3; Alma 36:19–21.

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Posted January 24, 2010 by rexfordgbeardsleyjr in Uncategorized

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