Weak Things Become Strong
Early in his ministry, Christ heals Peter's mother-in-law:
"And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them." Matthew 8:15.
Who exactly was she minstering to? To minister is to attend to someone's needs, but what were the needs of Peter or anyone else around? We aren't given much context, but let's consider the scenario.
Imagine the verses like you were there. Jesus walks in, touches her, and she is healed. It would be a life-changing experience for anyone present. The woman surely felt the difference, going from a state of sickness and misery to one of health and relief, but what exactly was this leading her to do? In other words, just how was she ministering to the others?
Maybe she was simply testifying that she was healed, and bearing witness of the power and authority of the One who had performed the blessing. Or perhaps the others were worried or so astonished that they couldn't believe what had happened, that they needed to know she hadn't been stricken with some devilish spirit, but rather had been truly healed by the power of God.
Take My Yoke Upon You
The process of overcoming a weakness, an illness, a burden, a sorrow, a bain, can be long and difficult. I have myself often thought in times of weakness, "Will I always be like this?"
It is in the darkest moments of depression and emptiness when we go one step further and say that we will not change. That we cannot change. And in those moments, the Savior would have us remember,
"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." Matthew 11:28-9
These impress me as some of the most beautiful words in all holy script, and therein lies the one of God's greatest promises: Christ will help you through the darkest of times.
Learn of Me
It is worth reflection that the Savior doesn't simply tell us to let him do all the lifting through the hard times. Rather, he tells us to let us be taught by him. "Learn of me," he implores. He doesn't just want us to get through the trials; he wants us to become something more because of them.
As I reflected on this and connected these words to the story of Peter's mother-in-law, I thought about her transformation: from weakness to strength. Although it occurred in an instant, the change mirrors the kind of change the Savior produces in us when we desire it of him. We go from the comforted to the comforters. Or at least that is our potential.
The prophet Moroni was taught this principle using the Lord's words,
"If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27
This strength God can give us is not simply meant as a trophy that we put on display, but something to use. In another scripture, the Lord explains to a group of saints in terrible bondage one reason he delivers his children, saying, "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" (Mosiah 24:14).
The Lord does not want to simply make us free. He wants us to learn of his goodness and share. To be witnesses, as he taught this group of afflicted believers.
Who You Are; Who You Can Become
In closing, I cite Paul's teachings concerning the gifts of the spirit:
"Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way." 1 Corinthians 12:30-1
In times of darkness, we are not who we condemn ourselves to be. We may be lost, cold, and alone, but our fate has not been decided. Each day produces a new opportunity for a more excellent way. An opportunity to come unto Christ and learn of him.
There are two reasons to try to push through life's difficulties. The first is that though you feel as if you are drowning, Christ will give you air to breath and strength to swim. The second is that somewhere, someday, there will come someone drifting in the same waters you drift in today.
When they come your way, you can be as Peter's mother-in-law, who ministered when she was once weak. None of us is condemned to stay the same forever. The invitation from Christ for us to learn of him will help us become like him, and through him, we can become saviors for others in their times of need.