Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

jesus-christ-last-supper-apostles-157161-wallpaperHours away from the suffering, betrayal, abuse, and false accusations that would lead to His crucifixion, Jesus gathered with the apostles in Jerusalem. The weight of every sin, every heartache, every doubt, every fear, every sickness, and every injury from the dawn of creation to the end of days loomed, monolithic, on Christ’s horizon. He had dismissed Judas the traitor and had told the remaining eleven apostles that they could not follow Him where He was headed (John 13:27, 33). Surely, on the edge of the universe’s most ardent crucible, He could have taken the opportunity to ask His friends for their help. He was about to suffer on their behalf—didn’t He at least have the right to count on their sympathy and support?

However, at a moment when any mortal care should have been completely eclipsed by the horrors that awaited Him, Jesus told His closest disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless” (John 14:18). Those eleven men, at the frontier of a new religious movement, were hours away from losing their leader, from being lost into a viciously unsympathetic world, from facing uncertainties and sorrows that they did not yet comprehend. Their coming difficulties—infinitesimal next to the Savior’s—were, nonetheless, poignant and real to Him. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” Jesus said, setting aside His own concerns. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Jesus’ hour had come, but the heavy burdens that He was about to bear did not make Him aloof to the burdens of His friends. In a gesture of incomparable compassion, He eased their fears, offering peace to their souls and teaching us that He will do the same for us. Even when it would have been justified, Jesus did not look away from His disciples’ troubles—and there is nothing that could convince Him to look away from ours. Through His miraculous, compassionate, and perfect love, we are somehow central to all that He does, and He is eager to see us through the troubles that we face.

Often, I look to the future with a troubled heart. Perhaps like the ancient disciples, I see only my own uncertainties. How can I make time to achieve my goals? How can I use my skills to establish a career in order to support a family someday? How can I navigate the nuanced ambiguities of emotion and commitment that lead to marriage (so that there’s a family to support someday)? How can I be sure that any of what I’m doing today will get me where I want to be tomorrow? The worries and questions badger me so insistently at times that they seem to overpower the still, small voice of the Messiah who promised, “I will not leave you comfortless,” leaving me to forget His injunction neither to fear nor to let my heart be troubled.

Speaking of that injunction, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “That may be one of the Savior’s commandments that is…almost universally disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation could be any more grievous to the Lord’s merciful heart.” If the Savior can set aside His cosmic concerns to help us with our mortal discomforts, shouldn’t we be able to set aside our passing worries in order to accept His help? Surely, He wants to help us, to comfort us, but He is restrained when we are unwilling to let Him work in our lives.

Though my worries can sometimes speak louder than divine reassurances, there have been times when I’ve managed to silence my fears and trust in Christ’s care—and peace and courage have always come. When I think about the things that must be on the to-do list of the Almighty, it leaves me awestruck that I could have a place on it, that He would have time and care enough to help me work out my little, frustrating puzzles. That isn’t because I’m exceptional in any way, though: it’s because He is. His compassion and patience are so great that He will give peace to those who ask it and comfort to those who need it. He promises us that unfailing compassion, accessible whenever we need it, if we will just trust Him enough to set our fears and troubles at His feet.

Jesus Wept

mary-martha-lazarus-1104310-gallery“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus,” the Gospel of John tells us (John 11:5), so, when Martha and Mary sent Him word that their brother, Lazarus, was gravely ill, they must have expected that He would have come right away in order to perform a miracle, in order to heal their brother and stabilize their lives. Jesus, however, did not come—not right away. Instead, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby,” and He “abode two days still in the same place where he was” (11:4, 6).

While Jesus waited, Lazarus died, and his sisters resigned themselves to laying their brother in the tomb. Finally, Jesus made His way to Judæa, where He found Mary, Martha, and many others in mourning.

Martha must have been bewildered at the Lord’s late arrival. Word had been sent to Him in time, but something had delayed Him, preventing Him from saving Lazarus while he yet lived. In her sorrow—perhaps even feeling betrayed by the delay—Martha approached Jesus and said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21). Martha, however, then asserted her faith that all was not lost, and she led Jesus to her brother’s tomb. At the tomb, Mary fell down at Jesus’ feet and, echoing her sister’s sorrow, said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (11:32).

“The sight of the two women so overcome by grief,” James E. Talmage once wrote, “caused Jesus to sorrow so that He groaned in spirit and was deeply troubled.” Indeed, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), showing us that God—even the Master and Architect of all things—sorrows along with us in our moments of anguish. Jesus knew that He had come to restore Lazarus’ life, but that did not stop Him from comprehending the sorrow of Lazarus’ death or from weeping with those grieving sisters.

Speaking of this sacred, tearful moment, Linda S. Reeves said, “This experience testifies of the compassion, empathy, and love that our Savior and our Heavenly Father feel for each of us every time we are weighed down by the anguish, sin, adversity, and pains of life.” They are not unfeeling arbiters of cosmic justice and order. They are our Father and our Savior, and they love us with such depth that it is impossible for them to ignore our pain. Thus, our tears are not infinitesimal blips on the radars of the universe; rather, they are the tears of a sorrowing daughter or of a discouraged son, tears that can move even the Almighty to weep along with us. As Sister Reeves explained:

[O]ur Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know us and love us. They know when we are in pain or suffering in any way. They do not say, “It’s OK that you’re in pain right now because soon everything is going to be all right. You will be healed, or your husband will find a job, or your wandering child will come back.” They feel the depth of our suffering, and we can feel of Their love and compassion in our suffering.

Yes, “Jesus wept,” the scriptures say, and in so doing, they teach us that Jesus yet weeps with us when tears rim our eyes. He does not discount our pain because He has the solutions, nor does He dismiss it as the mere pain of mortals. Because He loves us, He feels our pain as we feel it, suffering alongside us—and, because He is God, He brings us solutions, even miracles, when we rely on Him in humble faith.