As a busy mom, I have often found myself pondering the scripture, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength” (D&C 10:4). On days when I had no sleep, a ‘to-do’ list a mile long, and sick children, I wonder how this is even possible. It wasn’t until I considered the opposite of this principle that I more fully understood what the Lord had in mind. Let me share with you what I have learned….
If there was one word that describes running faster than we have strength, I would say that it is RIGOR. We first hear about Rigour in Exodus 1:13-14. “And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: All their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” The Pharaoh commanded that the Israelites be forced to gather straw to make enough brick to fulfill an impossible quota. He would not listen to reason and lift their burden. He wanted to weaken the Israelites and force them to leave their God by requiring them to run faster and labor more than they had strength.
A similar situation happened in the Book of Mormon under the command of Amulon;
“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.” (Mosiah 24:10-11) Again, we have another person in power that required rigor in order to weaken a God-fearing people and force them to leave their God.
In Leviticus, God warns His people about rigor and commands the Children of Israel; “Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.” (Leviticus 25:43) He warns against rigor THREE TIMES!!!! I guess the Lord didn’t want His chosen people to follow after the merciless rulers of Egypt.
Fast forward many years and we find ourselves bowing under the stress and rigor that has been placed upon us. The evil in this world forces us to use all of our energy to align with current policies and laws. With every passing year, it becomes harder and harder to provide for, preside over, protect and nurture our families.
Every year, hundreds of new bills are implemented that place extra burdens on our backs. Forms to fill out, fines to be paid, taxes to be levied, and regulations to be kept come at us like a fire hose on a house plant. It is impossible for the average family to keep up with everything that is required of them. Time restraints alone keep us from attempting to even comprehend the magnitude of the heavy load that is placed upon us.
The recent buzz word in education is “rigor” or “rigorous”. Our children are expected to reach prescribed standards that do not always meet the abilities of their personal development. Teachers are also asked to spend more time reporting, preparing and assessing than they used to. The results may reflect achievement on paper, but most parents will attest that their children are overwhelmed with all they are expected to do…… and let’s face it, so are the parents.
I had a conversation with a young man who has always had his life well organized. He was the youngest of five children who had all excelled in life. His future was bright and he had always looked forward to changing the world. But lately, he had seemed depressed. His positive outlook had disappeared and he just didn’t look like himself. As we talked, he expressed that too much was expected of him. He found that the things that were easy for his older siblings were too overwhelming to him. He had decided not to go on a mission because he was worried that he wouldn’t be ready for college and career if he left for two years. His natural optimism was replaced by drudgery as he weakened under the weight of so much rigor.
Are we recognizing our current generation gap? Have we not realized that the rigorous push for a perfectly engineered society has left our youth dealing with things that even their older siblings didn’t have to endure?
What about the adults? Do we expect to be able to do all that our older siblings and parents were able to do? Have we not realized that the rigorous push for more government control in our lives has left us with very little time, money and freedom to pursue the kind of life we would design for ourselves?
This is where I have to stop myself. I could choose to feel sorry for myself or start yelling hateful things to everyone involved in this new kind of rigorous, social engineering. But I choose not to. Instead, I look to the scriptures and see God’s promise to His children.……
“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.” (Mosiah 24:14-15)
We have all felt our burdens being lifted in our own, personalized way. Our Heavenly Father has not forgotten us. With that in mind, we can go forward in faith and work with our politicians and representatives to help them see that these rigorous burdens have no place in our country. We can reach out to those around us in service and help lighten their load. And we can make and keep sacred covenants in order to claim the promised blessings that will help us through our trials.
Above all, we need to make sure that these burdens do not keep our family from looking to our Heavenly Father. The rigorous requirements of Pharaoh and Amulon did not keep the righteous from worshiping God, and our rigorous requirements shouldn’t either. Although other men might expect us to run faster than we have strength, the Lord has promised us that He will lift our burdens and that we will come off as conquerors in the end. Can there be a better promise for our times?
“Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; be diligent unto the end.
Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:4-5)
-By Jenny Baker