A father, whose 10-year-old daughter deals with chronic health issues, stood in sacrament meeting weeks after his child had been hospitalized. He thanked the ward for their love and support. The Primary children made cards for his daughter. The Relief Society brought in dinners to the family and helped organize care for the couple's other children.
"We have learned," the father said, "that when you share sorrows among others, those sorrows become divided and lessened."
Months earlier the little girl had also been hospitalized. But, on that occasion, the family had chosen not to tell anyone. "As we went through the surgery and dealt with far more pain than anticipated, we felt so alone. It was a mistake to keep that burden within ourselves," he said. So during the next hospitalization, they reached out and "our lovely ward family quickly responded."
It is a lesson that has relevance for each of us, members of a worldwide community in which individuals and families strengthen one another, serve and are served.
Elder Robert D. Hales said in the October 1975 general conference that Latter-day Saints need each other. "The gospel plan requires giving and receiving. Faith alone is not enough. We need works to serve and to be served. We can't do it alone. … Why then do many of us 'go it alone' and deny those who love us most the joy and blessings which come from sharing? …
"When you attempt to live life's experiences alone, you are not being true to yourself, nor to your basic mission in life. Individuals in difficulty often say: 'I'll do it alone,' 'Leave me alone,' 'I don't need you,' 'I can take care of myself.' It has been said that no one is so rich that he does not need another's help, no one so poor as not to be useful in some way to his fellowman. The disposition to ask assistance from others with confidence, and to grant it with kindness, should be part of our very nature."
President Thomas S. Monson said, during his October 1989 general conference address, that the Lord's service requires both a giver and a receiver.
Speaking to "all those who serve the Lord by serving their fellowmen, and to those who are the recipients of this selfless service," the Redeemer declared:
" 'When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
" 'And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
" 'And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
" 'Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
" 'For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
" 'Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
" 'Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
" 'When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
" 'Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
" 'And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me'" (Matthew 25:31–40).
President Henry B. Eyring, during his October 2012 general conference address, said that Church members often put up a pavilion that prevents them from receiving the Lord's blessings during times of trial.
"In the depths of his anguish in Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith cried out: 'O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?' (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1). Many of us, in moments of personal anguish, feel that God is far from us. The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible. Our own desires, rather than a feeling of 'Thy will be done,' (Matthew 6:10) create the feeling of a pavilion blocking God. God is not unable to see us or communicate with us, but we may be unwilling to listen or submit to His will and His time."
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said during the 2012 First Presidency Christmas Devotional: "We all know that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive,' (Acts 20:35). But I wonder if sometimes we disregard or even disparage the importance of being a good receiver. … My brothers and sisters, my dear friends, what kind of receivers are we?"
President Uchtdorf said every act of service offered to us is an opportunity to build or strengthen a bond of love. "When we are good and grateful receivers, we open a door to deepen our relationship with the giver of the gift. But when we fail to appreciate or even reject a gift, we not only hurt those who extend themselves to us, but in some way we harm ourselves as well."
Service, rendered and received by God's children, comes with an eternal blessing described by the Prophet Joseph Smith's mother, Lucy Mack Smith: "We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in Heaven together" (Daughters In My Kingdom, p. 25).
This is the lesson the father learned as he helped his daughter navigate life while dealing with a chronic health issue.
He learned that by denying others the opportunity to serve his family, he had denied his family the opportunity to feel the love of the Savior through the kindness of those around them. By allowing others the opportunity to serve his family, they shared something greater than their burdens, he said. "We have also learned that when you share joy, those joys become multiplied."