All in this Together…

“Throughout my life I have felt the ministering hands of others, helping lift me when I have been down, strive when discouraged, and endure in exhaustion. Disciples of Christ have always ministered to me. I too have striven to be a lifter and one who helps others, especially as I have grown older, empathetic, and more aware of the need to be a community of man, children of Heavenly Parents. I have tried to minister as much or more then ministry received, but there is no catching up, so much love, so much kindness. The scales of ministry have always been tipped in favor of my receipt, but following my accident in December, I have been witness to burden bearing, love sharing, and lifting me up beyond what I will ever fully comprehend or be enabled to repay. I am grateful to my Savior for providing the saving lift no one else can give, but for also inspiring so many to do so much in blessing my life.”
Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 25 May 2024

“We are all in this together.” This is a phrase, used in varying degrees of sobriety and sincerity, which we have all gotten used to hearing over the years, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world uses such terms a bit flippantly at times, but to disciples of Christ this is a serious matter, being in this together. It is part of, and really at the very heart of our covenant path.

As a father, and later in my service as a bishop assigned responsibility in the preparation of individuals making covenants, I have often quoted ancient prophets. When sitting with a child discussing with them preparations for their upcoming baptism, the teachings of Alma are always an important part of the conversation. I love his words as he stood by the water among the good people who in peril came to him to be taught the words of Abinadi, and other teachings inspired of the Lord.

“As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called His people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before Him that ye have entered into a covenant with Him, that ye will serve Him and keep His commandments, that He may pour out His Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:8-10).

“Alma Baptizes in the Waters of Mormon” by Arnold Friberg

This covenant path laid out by Alma through inspiration of the Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that the earlier quote is not trite, but when fully engaged by God’s people, disciples of Christ, indeed “we are all in this together.” When in baptism we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, even disciples of Jesus, we truly become “all in this together,” as like the Savior, bearers of each other‘s burdens. Oh, what joy there is to be had in lifting others, even as we have been lifted by the most selfless bearer of burdens, becoming saviors on Mount Zion with Him (Obadiah 1:21).

Throughout the whole of time there have been great lamentations and sorrow, and our day is no exception, even perhaps an amplification of the same. Depression, trials and hardship reaches into every community, every home, as we shelter from worldly woes to protect our families and loved ones. It is for our good that we create barriers to things worldly, but this is the world in which we live. We share it with our fellow beings, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and we cannot isolate ourselves fully and still make an effort to be “all in this together.” To feel the warm embrace of one another’s love, basking together in the light of His love, we must strive together, bear together, mourn together, and rejoice together. This is the covenant path thing to do. The path was never meant to be solitary. Only one had to bear the burden alone, and because of Him we never have to be alone.

I remember well the beginnings of our COVID-19 crises. It was in my waning days of service as a bishop. I have felt the loneliness of so many lacking the human contact, the fellowship, that they had enjoyed for decades upon decades, and were left wanting and solitary. I was mindful of the concerns of those whose income and livelihood were threatened by not having the ability to work or other economic upheavals. I wet my pillow with my tears, I cried sitting at my desk and at my dinner table. I cried in probably every part of my home, worried for so many, and doing everything California law would allow to provide for my flock and friends any ministering comfort and service I could give. It was in a troubling and dark time that challenged us all who wished to be “all in this together.”

In the days of social distancing, I cried unto the Lord for our relief, and I know He was with us, as He is today and always. While I may think that I understand what you are going through, I know with all of my heart and without any doubt that the Lord knows and understands, and He is with us all. These are “Footprints in the Sand” moments. Why do we see only one set of prints in the sand, because it is now that our Savior is carrying us, or perhaps we are carrying each other on His behalf. I know that we are never alone, and I am so grateful.

Indeed, I received care and ministering beyond much of what I had understood before I was thrown to the ground while pruning my trees by an out of control automobile. Landing on my head robbed me of some memory and capability, took me from my family at Christmas, and brought despair to my sweet Monica, my children, and grandchildren. For days I was hardly aware of who I was, but so many reached out to my family and ministered to their needs when I could not, visited me in the hospital when I was hardly capable of communicating or remembering the effort, and praying for me that I might again be whole. The kindness of dear friends who blessed me with their time in my home, bringing food, or valued conversation, really caring, I will never forget. Another dear friend saw to it that damaged equipment was repaired, and even arranged for other maintenance that normally I would have handled. Beloved school teachers showed ucompassion to my children in daily care, offering ongoing prayers and support. Outreached kindness in person and in writing, the loan of a motorized wheelchair, the gentle hugs, the letters, calls and texts, have all lifted. My beloved family, my dear friends, my physicians and caretakers, have all been to me saviors on Mount Zion that “we are all in this together.” I am becoming whole by your efforts.

Let us help others not only to endure but to enjoy the lives with which we have been blessed of God. Let us help the lonely to never feel alone. Let us help those displaced to find place and fulfillment. As King Benjamin so aptly put, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). Thank you for being in the service of your fellow beings, and thank Jesus for showing us the way by being the exemplar of service.

“We are all in this together” because we have chosen to “bear one another’s burdens,… mourn with those that mourn,… and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” And just as the people of Alma clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed, “This is the desire of our hearts,” we too have embraced this covenant path and it is our day to stand and bear up one another, to “lift where we stand,” to “strengthen the feeble knees,” and to allow others to lift and strengthen us as well.

If we will do these things He will lighten our burdens, most often through one another, but even by His own divine hand will He lighten our burdens, and we will pass through life stronger and more fulfilled, better prepared and more appreciative to be in His presence. Even as was with the people of Alma, it will be with us. “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 24:15). This is the Lord’s desire for us. I testify as His witness of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“Against the Wind” by Liz Lemon Swindle — Jesus lifting Peter out of the water.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.