So many times in life, tears flow some are tears of sadness, others are tears of joy, but when either comes, no one should be alone.
There are many happy occasions in life when it is important to have family and friends about to share the glad tidings. Who would not want to share in the happiness when an infant is born, a child is baptized, a son or daughter leaves on a mission or is married in the temple? These are joyful times and should be shared. These are times that can bring tears of happiness.But there are also many other happenings in life that bring tears of sorrow: a child is gravely ill, a young mother dies, a person goes astray. Sometimes these tears turn into tears of loneliness, of bitterness, of hurt feelings.
When sorrow strikes, no Latter-day Saint should have to carry the burden alone, for within the Church is a built-in support system of loving and caring bishops, priesthood leaders, Relief Society presidents, youth leaders, home teachers and visiting teachers, and the members themselves.
Individual Church members are a great part of that support system - loving, caring, sharing, buoying up, reaching out. Occurrences of Church members helping to lift the burdens of others undoubtedly take place in every branch and ward across the Church. At one time or another, what family hasn't received a warm meal brought in by the Relief Society sisters or had chores done around the home by the priesthood brethren or the youth of the Aaronic Priesthood or Young Women, or even youngsters in Primary? Such incidents throughout the Church are legion.
But it isn't just the meal brought in or the chore performed that is important. What really counts is that it is an act of reaching out that says someone cares.
A month ago, the lives of a young couple with three small children were shattered when they found out their 8-year-old son had leukemia. It was news they weren't prepared to hear. It was news they didn't want to hear. The burden was almost too heavy to bear.
As members of the ward heard the news, they reached out to the family, and the couple found they weren't alone in their hours of grief. A lot of people cared.
Sad hearts were lifted by concerned ward members helping out.
Meals were prepared, food was brought in, the lawn was mowed, the cooler was winterized, baby sitters were provided, flower beds were weeded, transportation to the hospital was given, the laundry was done, clothes were taken to the cleaners, floors were scrubbed - and fasts were held and prayers were offered.
"I couldn't believe all the people who wanted to help badly enough that they were willing to do whatever had to be done," said the mother. "But from a physical standpoint, there is only so much that needs to be done. From the very beginning the thing that has held us together through all of this is that we know people care and are praying for us."
Another time and another place, a 59-year-old woman was crushed under the heavy weight of a felled tree. Bones snapped like the broken limbs of the tree. For 13 weeks she lay in a hospital bed in four different hospitals, with a badly fractured body and a mind that questioned why she was even still living.
Although she was hospitalized some 50 miles from her home, she was visited by caring friends and ward members almost every day. Cards and letters came almost daily. It was a great outpouring of love and concern. In nearly every Church meeting in the ward during the time she was hospitalized, prayers were offered in her behalf, and priesthood blessings were given and special fasts were held, with petitions to the Lord for her recovery.
After many surgeries and much rehabilitation, she was released from the hospital, to return home to face a long, painful period of convalescence - but the ward saw to it that she would not face it alone.
The priesthood quorums and the Relief Society passed around a paper to collect names of people who would help her. Nearly everyone present signed the paper. One sister even offered to donate one of her ribs for a jawbone graft for the woman.
The acts of service and kindness to the woman who lives alone "are what made life endurable. Without them," she said, "I could not have survived. So many people offering to help has given me reason for wanting to go on, wanting to keep trying."
"Bear ye one another's burdens," the apostle Paul admonished. (Gal. 6:2.) Such a simple - but yet so far-reaching - admonition. As we reach out to others in their times of need, we find that we draw not only closer to them, but also closer to Him who gave the ultimate in bearing the burdens of mankind.