We live in an unrelenting, fast-paced world that can be exhausting in many ways. It’s just a reality of modern life, there’s often so much expected of us either by ourselves or by other people, but there’s only so many hours in the day and we have a limited amount of energy. Life itself can be overwhelming at times, dealing with personal problems or issues related to other people can add to the weight we feel. Since we’re only human and live in an imperfect world, it’s essential that we take time out to rest and find balance in our lives.
Days off of work, relaxing vacations, and a good night’s sleep can go a long way in resting our bodies, but we are spiritual beings. One can’t live life depriving themselves of spiritual rest and expect to ever be completely renewed and at peace. The spiritual rest we should be looking for is the rest that the Savior Jesus Christ can provide.
Faith In Christ & Good Works Brings Spiritual Rest
The prophet Mormon taught the people of his time that those who are the “peaceable followers of Christ” through their faith in Christ and good works may “…[obtain] a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.” (Moroni 7:3)
Mormon is explaining that it is possible to enter into the ‘rest of the Lord’ in this life! That is amazing and exciting to me. Previous to finding this scripture, I certainly did not fully grasp the idea of the Savior’s rest. There are more clues in the scriptures about what the Lord’s rest is and how we can obtain it.
Repentance Brings Spiritual Peace
The prophet Alma several times made mention of “the rest of the Lord”. Alma was someone who had experienced the deep, bitter pains of sin and records that he turned to the Lord, “repenting nigh unto death.” Alma explained that while he was in the depths of his spiritual pain remembering his sins, he remembered the prophesying of his father about the Savior who would “atone for the sins of the world.” Upon remembering this he called upon the Lord for mercy and tells how he “could remember his sins no more”, and that his “soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was his pain.” Alma proclaimed that he was “redeemed of the Lord.” It’s recorded that Alma then traveled through the land “zealously striving to repair all the injuries which [he] had done, confessing all [his] sins… and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them. (Mosiah 27, Alma 36)
Alma’s transition from the most bitter spiritual pain to immense spiritual joy was clearly a transition from a state of spiritual unrest to a restful state. This is probably one of the more extreme scriptural accounts of someone receiving rest in their souls, but it should give hope to anyone suffering from sin. Alma later taught about those who are called to hold the Priesthood of God— his words could apply to anyone who fully repents and is cleansed through the atonement of Jesus Christ:
“…Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God. And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.” (Alma 13:12-13)
As noted above, having no desire for sin, even finding it abhorrent, is an additional gift/blessing that comes from being sanctified by the Holy Ghost as a result of repentance. I can’t think of a more peaceful, restful state to be in than being pure in mind and soul, knowing you are spotless before God and only desiring to do good. These blessings are all facet’s of the Lord’s rest. Alma explains further:
“Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.” (Alma 12:34-35)
Burdens Lightened Through Patience & Mighty Prayer
There are other facets of the Lord’s rest that can be obtained in this life. Alma’s father, also named Alma, led a group of Christians who became enslaved by tyrants who wanted to exploit them for power and gain. For Alma’s people, spiritual rest ultimately came in the form of deliverance from the physical bondage they were under. Also, because of their patience, their trust in God, and their prayers, Alma’s people were not left without comfort while they were in the middle of the worst their trials. They prayed with all their hearts to God for help and He heard them:
“And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, 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 upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; 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.
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.
And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.” (Mosiah 24:13-16)
The blessing Alma’s people received went beyond a mere change of mental focus, beyond an increased exertion of willpower. They first received divine strength to be able to bear their burdens and to do so cheerfully and patiently. The burdens and afflictions were still there, they were just lightened and made easy to deal with through the miraculous power of God. Even when suffering something as extreme as the bondage and slavery that Alma and his people suffered under, physical and spiritual rest can be found in the Lord. For them this rest was not just a nice thought or idea, it was actual physical and spiritual relief. Finally, and in the Lord’s timeframe, they were delivered completely from bondage.
For the spiritually troubled, those with heavy physical or emotional burdens or those who simply feel weary with life, there may not be a sweeter promise found in all of scripture than that given by Christ:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mathew 11:28-30)