The Spirit of Heaviness

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would replace negative things in our lives with positive ones: ashes with beauty, mourning with joy, and “the spirit of heaviness” with “the garment of praise” (Isaiah 61:3).

The word “heaviness” is a translation of the Hebrew word kehah (כֵּהָ֣ה), which means literally dim or faint. Other English translations render that phrase as a “faint spirit,” a “disheartened spirit” or a “spirit of despair.” (See Isaiah 61:3 on But I like the word “heaviness.” I can relate. There are times when I have felt burdened by the challenges I faced, when my emotional state was like a weight I carried around with me all day.

Susan H. Porter said, “When we invite the power of God into our lives, we can replace the ‘spirit of heaviness’ with inspired perspectives that lift others and make room for hearts to be healed” (“Lessons at the Well,” General Conference, April 2022).

Alma prayed that the poor among the Zoramites might be relieved of the physical and emotional burdens which they bore. He expressed confidence that God could make their burdens light “through the joy of his Son” (Alma 33:23).

Matthew and Mark tell us that, when the Savior approached the Garden of Gethsemane at the end of His mortal life, He “began to be sorrowful and very heavy” (Matthew 26:37, Mark 14:33). He asked three of His disciples to watch with Him, but “their eyes were heavy,” and they kept following asleep (Matthew 26:43, Mark 14:40), but Luke tells us that “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43). The spirit of heaviness doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. It can simply mean that you are feeling the weight of your unique challenges and experiences. But God can ease your burdens, strengthen you, and help you face those challenges with hope (Mosiah 21:15, Mosiah 24:14-15, 2 Nephi 31:20).

Today, I will invite the power of God into my life, so that “the spirit of heaviness” can be replaced with “the garment of praise.” I will also strive to follow God’s example by lifting the burdens of others and encouraging them when they carry burdens I cannot ease.

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