God is always aware of His children. He knows our suffering, our desires, and our fears. And yet at times, He has directed us to “Lift up our heads and rejoice” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:5). But let’s be honest – sometimes the last thing I want to do is rejoice. I’m sure you’ve felt the same way.
This past week though, I found a similar directive in the scriptures: “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort” (Mosiah 24:13). This phrase suggests that God knows we can’t always rejoice. That sometimes life is tough and rejoicing is not easily done.
But those tough times don’t have to prevent us from having hope.
A Time to Be of Good Comfort
Living in the last days brings a lot of challenges. The scriptures prophesy of fear, war, disease, anger, natural disasters, and so many other difficult things happening in the last days – which explains why we see so much of these problems and many others every day. None of this is easy, and all of us experience at least some of this pain.
And yes, the pain and challenges make rejoicing feel out of reach. Sometimes, we just aren’t capable of rejoicing in these challenges.
That isn’t something to feel guilty about. It’s simply part of our human experience.
But our pain and our challenges don’t give us an excuse to forget God. He still needs to be the focus of our lives.
If you’re doing the Come, Follow Me study with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then this past week you would have read about a leader named Alma and his people. Alma and his people were enslaved. They were forced to labor under taskmasters and suffer persecution. I think we can all agree that this was not a situation that made rejoicing easy.
The thing that makes these people amazing was their focus on Christ and their Father in Heaven. They prayed incessantly for help and relief, and God heard them. This is when God told them to “be of good comfort.” He understood that rejoicing was difficult, so instead, He simply asked that they continue to trust Him and find comfort in the fact that He was listening to them.
And they did. They were comforted by His awareness and assurance. And eventually, comfort gave way to cheerfulness, in spite of their miserable situation. They knew that God was there with them, strengthening them so they could do their work, so they could keep going even when it wasn’t easy.
And finally, their faith paid off. God made it possible for all of them to escape their captors, and they were finally able to rejoice.
A Time for Rejoicing
Looking at the world right now, it’s hard to imagine a time of complete rejoicing. We’re facing a worldwide pandemic, but that isn’t where the challenges and suffering end.
So when will we, like Alma and his people, have our time of rejoicing?
Honestly, I don’t know. But something we need to remember if we want to keep going and have hope is that our circumstances don’t have to control what we feel.
Maybe right now we don’t feel like we can rejoice. That’s okay. But instead of rejoicing, we can still “be of good comfort.” Our dear Father in Heaven is still there. He’s still listening to us. And He knows what we’re going through. Isn’t knowing that He’s still with us and listening to us enough to comfort us?
And, though pain and suffering seem to have no end, God has promised us that someday pain and suffering will end. Christ’s infinite atoning sacrifice has not been cut short. His sacrifice is not limited. And we will be freed from the pain and suffering that we face every day. That promise is true now, and it will always be true no matter what pain, disaster, loss, or fear comes up next in our lives.
There are never ending truths, eternal truths, that will comfort us no matter our circumstances in life. And if all we can do is be comforted and comfort others, then that’s enough right now. Someday, that comfort will give us cheerfulness. And cheerfulness will someday lead to rejoicing.
Whether we can rejoice tomorrow or we have to wait years to find that place of rejoicing, God has promised that it will come. And we, by choosing to “be of good comfort” in our God, can come closer to rejoicing every day, in spite of any pain or challenge we may face.
So right now, look for comfort. Look for God’s promises, His great works, His goodness – and be comforted. The cheerfulness and rejoicing will follow.