Monday, March 10, 2014

Overcoming Trials - A Gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ

My sweetheart and I had the opportunity to speak at church yesterday. We were both so profoundly affected by our time prepping our talks, and so blessed to experience some wonderful confirmations that I felt prompted to share what I spoke about. I hope you find solace in the trials you are going through, and hope you lean on Jesus Christ to help you through them. There is hope for a brighter future.

Here is the Talk  

This past week both Adam and I have had divinely inspired opportunities that gave us insight into what we have been asked to speak about today. I am humbled by this opportunity to speak of something so sacred and invite the Spirit to testify of the truth of the things I am going to share today about how I have used the Atonement to overcome trials.

To start my talk, I felt it was best to present some every day life scenarios that we may relate to. I invite you to think about similar experiences in your lives and deeply contemplate what you have done to feel peace.

Scenario #1*: A family returns from a funeral of their young child. A father is struggling with his testimony of the plan of salvation and eternal families. He is wondering “Why? Why did this happen to our family?” He is experiencing feelings of doubt, despair, fear that he will never see his child again, and unfairness.

Scenario #2*: A single mother of four children sits at a table struggling to pay her bills. She wonders how in the world she is going to make it this month with all those mouths to feed. She plays the role of both mother and father to her kids, and works several jobs to keep food on the table and maintain a happy home. She is experiencing feelings of hopelessness, doubt, loneliness, and stress.

Scenario #3*: A once marathon runner sits in his wheelchair watching old videos of his glory days. He is now paralyzed with limited ability to do anything, including brushing his own teeth. His wife has become a caretaker and struggles to lift him physically and spiritually. This small family is struggling with feelings of depression, anger, guilt, and maybe even resentment.

Scenario #4: A youth attends middle or high school where they feel out of place.  They have tried fitting in, but to no avail.  Maybe they are being mocked, but maybe they are just coasting by, not really feeling like they belong. They tend to think, I am not good enough, I am not pretty enough, I am not sporty enough, I am not confident enough. They are experiencing feelings of self-doubt, loss of individual worth and self-esteem, and loneliness.

Scenario #5: An elderly couple struggles to get out bed everyday, quite literally. They are having a hard time knowing that at one point they used to be able to do everything, like pour a bowl of cereal without any aches or pains, and even when they can their cereal doesn’t taste the same. They struggle to remember and their recall seems to be failing. They can’t hear as well and their eyesight only allows them to see fuzzy shapes but their inner HD is limited. They are struggling to know if they have accomplished everything they have wanted to and struggle to understand why all of a sudden they are limited because their bodies won’t let them do what they want them to do.

Scenario #6: A person is struggling with addiction. What used to be something that was a momentary fix has become an obsession. They have tried to wean themselves, but end up needing that momentary satisfaction that doesn’t seem to last. They are experiencing feelings of being trapped, sometimes physical pain, anxiety, guilt, and depression depending on the addiction, false sense of security, and powerlessness.

Scenario #7: A newly married couple is struggling to figure out how to set aside individual needs, learn how to communicate, and determine the best course of action for this newly formed family. In trying to overcome stubbornness and pride, they are struggling in their testimonies of what it means to hone this new relationship and bond together and with the Lord, therefore struggling with the concept of eternal marriage. They are experiencing feelings of resentment, uncertainty, panic, disorientation, and desperation.

I have had my own scenarios, and I can tell you that I often felt like I was fighting against the storm and was doing everything in my power to stay afloat. It was a struggle getting up everyday knowing that when I went to sleep my circumstances didn’t go away. These situations seem daunting when speaking about them in the same setting, and talking about them is kind of depressing.

I am here to tell you something amazing. I am here to tell you that even in the most dire of circumstances, I was able to beat the storms of life. I was given a life raft and able to swim to safety. I have been able to find peace again, and I was able to do this not by myself. For all those experiencing any related feelings described in the scenarios, there is hope that you too can find joy; a joy that comes as we seek to understand and allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to buoy us through the storm.

In a talk Mountains to Climb, President Henry B. Eyring said: “Many of you are now passing through physical, mental, and emotional trials that could cause you to cry out as did one great and faithful servant of God I knew well. His nurse heard him exclaim from his bed of pain, “When I have tried all my life to be good, why has this happened to me?

The way to rise through and above trials is to believe that there is a “balm in Gilead” and that the Lord has promised, “I will not … forsake thee.” 

In Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-9 it reads:  “And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”

When I am experiencing trials, I don’t like to hear that my trial will give me experience and I will grow from it. For me this advice seems to undermine how I am feeling when I am going through a trial. Especially when I feel like I am drowning. 

I can tell you though that knowing that there is someone who understands my trial so completely the way the Savior does because of His Atonement, helps me to find the desire and motivation to overcome it.

In the talk Adversity, President Henry B. Eyring taught: “It will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior’s promised relief that He knows, from experience, how to heal and help us. … And faith in that power will give us patience as we pray and work and wait for help. He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation, but He chose to learn by His own personal experience.

Yes, there are things we have to do to fully grasp how the Atonement can help us with our trials, and we have the opportunity to learn about them every Sunday. 

As Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the talk He Heals the Heavy Laden, he taught: “Healing blessings come in many ways, each suited to our individual needs, as known to Him who loves us best. Sometimes a ‘healing’ cures our illness or lifts our burden. But sometimes we are ‘healed’ by being given strength or understanding or patience to bear the burdens placed upon us.”All that will come may be “clasped in the arms of Jesus.” All souls can be healed by His power. All pain can be soothed. In Him, we can “find rest unto [our] souls.” Our mortal circumstances may not immediately change, but our pain, worry, suffering, and fear can be swallowed up in His peace and healing balm.” 

For those that feel like they are drowning and just need a hand to grab them, the most important thing I can tell you is that Jesus Christ is there with you in the storm. He has a crew equipped with all manner of life saving devices to help you. He is at the helm, and is reaching out to grab your hand. Don’t give up reaching for His hand. There is hope you can overcome these scenarios in your own life.

One last quote from Elder David A. Bednar in the talk The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality, said: “The Savior has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distresses that so frequently beset us. There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, “No one understands. No one knows.” No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor—literally run to us—and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying upon only our own power.”

I testify that He will nurse you back to health. He will help you overcome whatever challenges you face. He will lead you in the direction you need to go. He will let you feel love again. I testify of these things because I know them from my own experience. I know because when I let Him in, He healed my broken spirit. AND I know that this is all possible because of the amazing Atonement, which covers all conditions and purposes of mortality.

These truths I leave with you in gratitude for the Spirit that guided me through how to deliver this message, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, AMEN.


NOTE: Some of these scenarios were borrowed from the following video, Mountains to Climb by President Henry B. Eyring, which I have also posted below.

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