“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
This weekend while I was working on a church assignment, I found a scrap of paper tucked into my Bible. It was slightly torn, but I could tell at one time it had been a program from a Sunday service. I recalled that I had hastily taken notes a few weeks prior while a recently returned missionary gave his stirring report. He had served two years in the Brazil, Ribeiroa Preto Mission, and spoke to our congregation on the subject of faith. This handsome 21 year old young man spoke with great conviction and enthusiasm as he recalled his experiences. On my scrap of paper were written two of his statements that had particularly impressed me. The first was as follows:
“Time does not change a person. It is our Choices over time that brings change.”
The young man went on to describe many challenges that he had faced during his mission – learning the language, adjusting to the cultural differences, struggling with homesickness and feelings of inadequacy, facing illness and opposition, just to name a few. However, he glowed as he expressed the joy that choosing to serve the Lord had brought to his heart. He described the great love he had developed for the country and people that he served. He bore testimony of his deep love for the gospel message, and for our Savior’s sacrifice. This young man’s words touched our hearts and inspired us to serve others. He concluded with the following message:
“If we want to develop faith, we must do things that require great faith. We must do hard things.”
This young man has gained wisdom ‘beyond his years’. His story, experiences and testimony reflected an overflowing personal reserve of faith. It seemed apparent that this gift of faith came in large part because he was not afraid to serve others and to do hard things that stretched his soul. One of our apostles, Henry B. Eyring recently spoke of this in our October General Conference:
“Remember: [God] has always taken care of you from your childhood…What is impossible to you, is possible with God’s help.”
Truly, all things are possible with God. We each have personal experiences that we can recall as we look back over our lives in which we have been able to accomplish hard things and we have felt a higher power helping us to do this. As we move forward in our lives we will face great challenges. Sometimes the very hardest thing to do is just to keep a tight hold onto our faith. In these “Gethsemane” days of our lives, we grasp onto the hope that God is there and that somehow He will help us. Then, as we continue to ‘hold on’, a quiet personal miracle begins to take place in our hearts; our faith grows stronger and our burdens become easier to carry. Elder Eyring reminds us of the great example we each can turn to as we hold on:
“Think of the Savior, whose service you are in. At what point in His mortal life can you see an instance when it was easy for Him? Did He ask easy things of His disciples then? Then why should it ever be easy in His service, or for His disciples?…all of us, whatever our callings may be, face tasks that are beyond our own powers…The Spirit is ready.”
The promise has been given that when we choose to accomplish a hard thing in partnership with God we will be given the gift of increased faith. If this is the case, then perhaps we should keep an eye out for the opportunity to do something hard!
We could choose to welcome at least one ‘hard thing’ into each day. We could choose to thank our Heavenly Father for the hard things we have been able to collect, and enjoy the process of conquering them!
With this perspective, it is not too difficult to comprehend that the greatest challenges we will face are also going to be our greatest blessings. The hard things are actually a gift from God. Let us choose not to have fear. Let us go forward in faith. When the trials and tears come along, and the burden feels too heavy, let us rejoice in the realization that we have been given the chance to stretch our souls closer towards Christ!