“Feed My Sheep,” Ensign, Apr. 1989, 73
Objective: To help the sisters realize the importance of fellowshipping.
Following his resurrection, the Savior dined with his Apostles on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. When the meal was over, Jesus asked Peter, “Lovest thou me?” (John 21:15.)
Three times the Savior asked Peter if he loved him. And each time that Peter declared his love, the Savior said, “Feed my lambs” or “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17.)
These words should be planted deep in all of our hearts. As Peter learned, “feeding” the Lord’s “sheep” is our sacred obligation, our divine commission.
Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society general president, tells of a sister whose friend’s mother had passed away. Uncertain about how to help her grieving friend, the woman asked her husband whether he thought she should take flowers or food. He suggested that she ask the Lord. The answer came: “Just go.”
Her arrival comforted her friend, and they prayed together. The grieving sister later said that she had indeed appreciated what her friend had brought—a needed peace. (See Ensign, Nov. 1984, p. 99.)
We all have burdens. Some of us face devastating family or personal problems. Others deal with illness, handicaps, or economic insecurity. Many are lonely. Some may feel overburdened by the demands of small children; others, without husband or children, may feel as if their lives have no purpose. Some sisters may be dealing with the changes in life-style an “empty nest” or retirement brings. Young sisters may be shy or far from home and family.
“I have anguished over the cry of those sisters who want to contribute, who want to belong, who long for companionship and yet do not feel love and acceptance,” says Sister Winder. (Ibid.)
We are commanded to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.” (Mosiah 18:8.) Indeed, lifting someone else’s burden can often help take some of the weight off our own backs and put our trials in perspective.
Cindy and Russell (their names have been changed) were devastated when their first child was born with Down’s syndrome. Questioning their belief in a loving Heavenly Father and fearing rejection by others, they withdrew from Church and social activity, then gradually lost interest in each other.
Cindy’s life was at its bleakest when Gwen moved in next door. Slowly, Gwen, who had herself lost a child to cerebral palsy a few years before, was able to touch the sorrowing heart of her neighbor. She helped Cindy find the confidence she needed to pull herself out of the mire of despair, return to full Church activity, and give her husband and child love and acceptance born of a soul again in harmony with the Lord.
As we give love, our ability to give more love will increase; as we “feed” the Lord’s “sheep,” we will feast even more abundantly on the food of peace and joy. We will truly be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Eph. 2:19.)
Discuss some ways we can learn to be more aware of other people’s needs and how we can make time to help others.
Share an experience about a time when you helped lift another’s burden or when someone lifted your burden, or ask the sister you visit to share such an experience. How did this concern help everyone involved? (See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 98–101, 106–8, 112–16 for related materials.)