I love being a graduate student, but sometimes I still find myself overwhelmed with how much I have to do. I think we all tend to feel like that about our jobs at one time in our lives or another. Growing up, I felt bad for my dad because he would always have to leave so early in the morning and he would come back so late at night. Work can be hard.
While reading the Book of Mormon this week, I read the story of Alma in the land of Helam. A little bit of backstory, Alma was a priest for a wicked king named Noah. A prophet named Abinadi came to Noah, condemning his wicked acts and calling on him to repent. Noah ultimately had Abinadi killed, but Alma believed Noah. Noah tried to have Alma killed, but Alma fled. Alma got a gathering of followers who believed the words of Abinadi, and they began meeting secretly in the wilderness. When Noah found out, he sent guards after them, but Alma and his band were able to escape.
Now some years later, Amulon, one of King Noah’s wicked priests, is back. He was somehow able to find Alma, and he came with an army. He puts himself in charge over Alma, and all kinds of things go bad. Here’s some of the story:
And now it came to pass that Amulon began to exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and began to persecute him, and cause that his children should persecute their children.
For Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king’s priests, and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was driven out before the king, and therefore he was wroth with him; for he was subject to king Laman, yet he exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put taskmasters over them.
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
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 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.
OK, so thankfully, or at least hopefully, work never feels quite that bad. It would suck to have a vengeful enemy from your past end up being your boss and telling you not only what to do at work, but even stepping all over your personal life too– even saying that you can’t pray.
But I thought how sometimes we can easily let work become something like this if we aren’t careful. Work can require a lot. Being a student requires me to teach 10-20 hours a week, carry out my own research project, attend lectures and seminars, and fulfill administrative duties for my lab. If I’m not careful, I could start forgetting to pray, or feeling that I don’t have time for it and other aspects of spiritual life like reading in the scriptures, praying as a family, and holding family home evening.
I feel that when I do those things, my burdens really are made light. The Lord’s promise here, that he visits his people in their afflictions, applies to us as well. Then you don’t feel quite so worn down, you don’t start feeling sorry for yourself, or hating mornings because you have to get up and go to work.
So let the Lord make your burdens light!