The songwriter Colin Vearncombe (also known as Black) sang: ‘It’s a cold hard road and we walk it alone.’
The writer of Ecclesiastes said:
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4 :9-10)
We all need help and company on our journey through life. That’s why we have the Church. We need the Church to receive the saving ordinances but we also need the strength that comes from fellowship with the Saints. President Gordon B Hinckley said: “[The Church] is a great family of friends who mingle together and enjoy one another.” (Oct 2002).
However, as brothers and sisters in the gospel and fellow travellers along the straight and narrow path, I sometimes feel that we could be kinder and more understanding with each other. It is sad that we sometimes speak sharply to each other, we are sometimes slow to forgive and we are sometimes critical of others. This is tremendously damaging.
Sister Mary Ellen Edmunds said: ‘A greeting used in Africa impresses me. One person will ask of another, “Are you well?” The response is, “I am well if you are well.” That is the feeling we need to have towards each other.’ (Ensign September 1988)
We should all rejoice when our brothers and sisters are well.
President Harold B. Lee counseled that membership in the Church “must mean more than just being a ‘card carrying’ member of the Church with a tithing receipt, a membership card, a temple recommend, etc. It means to overcome the tendencies to criticize and to strive continually to improve inward weaknesses and not merely the outward appearances.” (April 1971 General Conference).
That is our perennial individual challenge – to overcome the natural man with his natural tendencies to denigrate, demean and destroy. The Saviour teaches us to love our fellowman.
As Marvin J Ashton noted in April 1992 ‘If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.’
What a great blessing it is to have a worldwide family of friends – we don’t need to walk the cold, hard road alone.