The children of God were in a hopeless situation. They were slaves to cruel taskmasters. Their burdens were impossible to bear. They were forbidden to pray vocally. They had to feel completely abandoned by that God who promised them prosperity if they proved faithful in keeping His commandments.
Against all logic and in spite of their feelings of being forsaken, these patient and penitent people proved faithful by persisting with silent prayers as they poured out their souls pleading for deliverance.
Finally, an answer.
God said to Alma:
Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
Alma rejoiced! Got would set them free. But, God was not done with this answer. He went on to say:
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage…
Were they to be delivered or not?
Why the delay?
We must remind ourselves that God doesn’t waste an opportunity to teach. As this is a book written for our time, not only was He teaching those suffering under the lash of Amulon, but He is teaching us the mystery of the covenant.
And what is that mystery?
Alma’s people proved faithful and God lifted their burden. God quietly extends this same guarantee to us. Let’s use the law of tithing as an example.
Many of us were first taught tithing at a young age. At first it was fun to place pennies in a small jar later to hand them to the bishop in a grey envelope.
However, as we started to make money, tithing was no longer fun. Now it was a burden. But if we proved faithful, the burden of tithing is lifted. The miracle is that for most full tithe payers, living that commandment, regardless of their income, is no longer a burden.
Some may say that once something is a habit it naturally becomes easy. But that idea removes the role of God. When our willing obedience becomes an integral part of our lives, it is a direct fulfillment of God’s covenant. When we prove faithful, God lifts our burden so that we cannot feel them. When He lifts the burden, obedience becomes easier. The more we prove faithful, the more God lifts our burden.
The covenant creates a personal, one-on-one relationship between us and God. It is the very expression of a loving, personal God who is involved in the very details of our lives. I feel this is the major difference between our church and all others. We believe that God wants us to succeed and return to be with Him again. Covenants are his vehicle to bring us home.