It was spring, it was mid-morning, and when a knock sounded at my door I opened it to find a stranger. She hesitated before speaking, finally asking in a tearful voice if the Bishop was home. Slowly, recognition dawned and I was startled to find that this was not a stranger at all, but a woman from my ward. Her eyes appeared swollen from crying, and I tried to interpret the facial expression which had prevented me from recognizing her at first. Grief? Despair? Perhaps a mixture both. I was sorry to tell her that the Bishop was not at home, but was currently driving from his office to meet me at the elementary school for a program. Carrying cell phones was not the norm at that time, so I told Jennifer* that I would soon be with my husband and ask him to contact her.

I stepped onto the porch to hug my friend, but she stood stiff in my arms. Clearly, she needed something stronger than a human embrace. As she silently turned toward her car, I reentered my home, pushed the door shut, and stood there stunned. Not being the Bishop, I had never witnessed the extreme suffering of someone in need of his help.

What could have caused the pain I read in Jennifer’s red rimmed eyes? I prayed silently for the Lord to comfort her, and for my husband to know how to help. Grabbing my purse, I headed to the garage and slid into my car. I tried to resist the impulse to speculate on my friend’s situation, but something was terribly wrong, and my mind raced with questions. Was it a financial disaster? Serious sin on the part of Jennifer or someone close to her? Was there a life-altering medical diagnosis in the family? A death?

Meeting my husband at the elementary school, I informed him of Jennifer’s need. I was physically present as my children performed with their fellow students, but mentally distracted. Alternately praying and worrying, I came to the conclusion that no matter what issues this good woman faced, Jesus would be the answer to the struggle. Whatever the sorrow, the sin, the pain—the Savior would be there, willing to meet Jennifer in her extremity. Thank goodness she had reached out for help instead of trying to shoulder the burden on her own.

I was relieved when the school event ended and Brad and I rushed to the parking lot. He arranged for Jennifer to come to our house right away. As they met in my husband’s office, I was three doors down the hall at my piano writing the simple words that began flowing into my mind on the drive home:

“Come to Jesus when you’re weary
of the burdens you must bear.
Come to Jesus when you’re fearful
and your heart is in despair.
He will ease the load you carry
by the power of His hand.
As you lean on Him for strength
you will find that you can stand.
So, if you’re weary, come.
Come to Jesus.” (1)

How do we come to Jesus? We are constantly taught that praying and searching the scriptures are vital in establishing a connection to the Lord, however, in the immediate aftermath of devastating news or a traumatic event, we are in spiritual shock. It may be difficult to focus or to speak clearly. We may barely even be able to function. In certain situations, reaching out for spiritual help from the Bishop, as Jennifer did, may be our best hope for coming to Jesus.

At other times, seeking the Lord in His temple may be our only comfort. My own experience has shown me that when I’m so overwhelmed that I can barely pray, sometimes it’s enough to just cry out to the Father—and know that He knows the pleadings of my heart. As we press on through our spiritual upheaval—even if all we can do is go through the motions of reaching for the Savior–eventually we can find relief through the “man of sorrows” who is “acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

My husband could not, of course, discuss Jennifer’s situation with me. To this day I don’t know what caused her pain. What I do know is that I saw her in church every Sunday, the strain showing in her face. As weeks and months passed she grew more relaxed, more peaceful. Many years and several ward divisions came and went, and eventually I forgot about the experience entirely. But just this week I ran into Jennifer while Christmas shopping and we stood for several minutes, chatting over our loaded carts. She smiled at me as she turned to leave, and in her beautiful face I saw no trace of the heavy sorrow she once bore. How grateful I am that Jennifer knew who to turn to in her despair. “God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.” (2)

Come to Jesus

Words and music by Lynne Perry Christofferson
(from the album Lift Your Mind Higher)
Vocalist: Tanya Barkdull

“Come to Jesus when you hunger
for a feast that satisfies.
Come to Jesus when you wonder
why your spirit’s running dry.

He will feed you from His table,
living water He will pour,
till you’re filled with Bread of Life
and your soul will thirst no more.

So, if you hunger, come.
Come to Jesus.

Come to Jesus when you’re weary
of the burdens you must bear.
Come to Jesus when you’re fearful
and your heart is in despair.

He will ease the load you carry
by the power of His hand.
As you lean on Him for strength
you will find that you can stand.

So, if you’re weary, come.
Come to Jesus.

Come and claim the Savior’s grace.
Seek for Him and you will find yourself
in His embrace.

Come to Jesus when you’re ready
for a sweeter way of life.
Come to Jesus when you’re heading
down a pathway with no light.

He will take your sin and weakness
and will wash away the shame.
He will purify your heart
and you will never be the same.

So, if you’re ready, come.
Come to Jesus, to Jesus,
come to Jesus.”

 

*name changed

Notes:

  1. Lynne Perry Christofferson, “Come to Jesus” Lift Your Mind Higher, (album), 2006.
  2. The Living Christ: The testimony of the apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.