You may already be familiar with the story in the book of Mosiah about the people of Alma. They were a righteous people who were persecuted by the followers of the wicked Amulon. Amulon put tasks upon the people of Alma and put taskmasters over them. (Mosiah 24:9) The description of their afflictions is timeless because I know we have all felt this way at times:
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
Amulon didn’t like that and told them to stop praying and put guards over them to put anyone found praying to be put to death. They no longer spoke their prayers aloud, “but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.” (Modish 24:12)
The Lord comforted them in their afflictions and told them to remember the covenant they had made. Then he made this comforting promise:
And I will also ease the burdens which are out upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as a witness for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their affliction.
And of course, because He is who He says He is, he followed through with the promise and “the burdens that were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, and the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease; and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” (Mosiah 24:15)
This story shows us that the Lord can ease our burdens even when he doesn’t remove them. The key to achieving that feeling of ease and peace comes in strengthening our relationship with Him.
The weight we feel in our afflictions has more to do with our relationship with the Lord than with the weight of our burdens.
That means that if our burdens feel heavier than normal it may not be because of an increase in our burdens, but because of a weakening of our relationship with our Savior. Additionally, even when our burdens are increased we can rely on the immortal power of the Savior and still achieve the same, or even an increasing, feeling of peace.
One of the most powerful gifts the Savior gives us through the atonement is the gift of peace regardless of our circumstances. Our trials and our afflictions are still there for us to learn and grow from, but through his mercy and grace they do not have to hurt or injure us.
When we are encompassed in comforting peace that can only come through through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ we will be as the people of Alma who “poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them . . . and all . . . that could speak lifted their voices in praises of their God.” (Mosiah 24:21-22)
So, we’ve established WHAT we need to do to have our burdens lightened, but sill leaves us a little vague on HOW to do it. How do we strengthen our relationship with the Savior?
The answer may be a little anticlimactic because it’s the same answer we always give, and we always give it because when sincerely applied it ALWAYS works. Every single time. Study, pray, read, obey. You can start by pondering this question:
What think ye of Christ?
Don’t regurgitate what you’ve heard at church or other people say, don’t just repeat the stories you’ve heard, think about what YOU as an individual know about him. What experiences have you had with him? What conversations have you had with him? What inside jokes do you have together? What has he taught you? To truly draw closer to our Savior we must begin to have an answer to these questions and have a personal relationship that is independent of the scriptures, lessons and those around us. Although, these things certainly enhance and guide our efforts we must cultivate a personal relationship with our Savior that is strong enough to stand alone if it is required of us.
I can only begin to answer the question of what I think of Christ, but I have seen that when I strengthen my relationship with him, he lifts my burdens and they are truly made light. He gives us the opportunity to have peace no matter what, all we have to do is love and obey him.