In February 2013, I was a year and a half into being a single mom of three young children. While the devastation and shock of my divorce was giving way to a new routine of working and raising my children alone, I found myself constantly seeking the Lord’s guidance and strength.
The mental, emotional, and physical strain of being a single parent, coupled with the doubts and fears that result when a spouse leaves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a heavy burden to bear. On fast Sunday that month I prayed and fasted for grace. I felt that I needed the Lord’s enabling power to make my efforts as a single parent enough and to strengthen my testimony beyond doubt.
Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice Can Bring Us Hope
During my fast I turned to the Ensign. Elder David S. Baxter’s words were like a glimpse into my life at that time when he said: “Most of us at some time in our lives feel the chill winds of adversity. Storms brew, winds blow, rains fall, floods rise. It may seem that there is no end in sight, that we simply face a future of uncertainty and doubt, trial and tribulation. As well as experiencing periodic thunderstorms, we can experience horrific hurricanes and tempests of turmoil, which can destroy our confidence and shake our sense of self-worth. All that we hold dear can suddenly feel so ephemeral, slipping through our fingers. Major life changes can knock us off balance, disrupting our sense of equilibrium” (“Leaving Adversity Behind,” Ensign, Dec. 2012).
I could certainly relate! Elder Baxter then spoke of the Apostle Paul, who wrote that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, “we are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
I realized that there had been many times when the Atonement had kept me from complete distress, utter despair, total forsakenness, and whole destruction. And, just as importantly, I can choose not to be overcome by adversity and affliction because of the great gift of the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice.
Staying and Being Comforted on the Covenant Path
When my marriage ended, I chose to follow President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel and “stay on the covenant path” (“President Russell M. Nelson: Choosing the Path of Love,” New Era, Mar. 2018). For me, it was the only way, but it was not always an easy choice. The adversary whispered untruths in my ear and tempted me to leave the safety and protection of faith and covenants. I knew that staying close to my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ was the best way for me to raise my children and find lasting joy and happiness. My covenants were a strength to me, and I went often to the temple to feel the peace of the Lord offered there.
In his article, Elder Baxter also invites us to consider the people of Alma, who were converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ at “the waters of Mormon” (Mosiah 18:8), and then—because of their beliefs—were forced to flee into the wilderness and begin new lives in the land of Helam (Mosiah 23). The people soon found themselves in bondage to the Lamanites, with one of Alma’s former brethren, Amulon, a cruel ruler and taskmaster over the righteous group of Saints. When the people of Alma prayed to God in their afflictions, Amulon forbade prayer and put to death anyone praying vocally (Mosiah 24:10-11).
As the persecution and trials increased, the righteous members of the Church of Christ continued to pray to the Lord in their hearts. Their fervent prayers were answered when they heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them … and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:13-14).
What a beautiful promise! Because of the covenants they had made in the waters of Mormon—that they faithfully lived up to—the Lord heard their prayers, promised to ease their burdens, and visited them in their afflictions.
What happened next to these faithful Saints is truly miraculous: “And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, 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). As one of the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the May 11-17 Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families states, “God can make my burdens light.”
Strengthened through Christ’s Atonement
On that fast Sunday as I reflected on the miracle of this scriptural account and promise, I was amazed. I had just prior been feeling very clearly that there will come a time when I will look back at these hard days and nights of single parenting and see clearly how the Lord had been giving me so much help and strength. I knew then that my plea for Christ’s grace was answered: Jesus had been and would continue making me equal to the task and easing my burdens.
The power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that the Lord can strengthen us to bear our burdens with ease, to feel cheerful, to be patient, and to know of a surety that Christ knows us and is with us in our trials. The Lord knows each one of us. Jesus knows and remembers, even when we forget, that we have covenanted with Him. The power of those covenants is made manifest through the grace of the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
As Elder David A. Bednar expresses, “the enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity” (“In the Strength of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 2004).
Now I look back on those days as a single mom of young children with fondness and joy in my heart. We truly felt the Lord ease our burdens—through family members, friends, ward members, tender mercies, and miracles. I know that Christ brought me comfort and cheer, and honored my covenants with His grace. And I stand as a witness of His mercy and love, knowing with a surety that He is with us in our afflictions.