Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Atonement Covers All Pain

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Atonement Covers All Pain, by Kent F. Richards
Of the Seventy

When I consider the Atonement, I often reflect on the power it grants Christ in standing as Mediator. I think of how it satisfies the demands of justice (see Mosiah 15:9 and Alma 34:16) and makes possible the resurrection for all and exaltation for the penitent. Too often, however, I neglect to consider the aspect of pain.

Pain can be found all around us—be it physical or spiritual—but is exquisitely appreciated when it is our own pain or the pain of a loved one. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I haven't experienced much personal pain; perhaps this is why I've sometimes wondered about the nonuniform distribution of pain in the world. There are some who have more than their share of pain (I'm speaking mostly of physical because much of spiritual pain can be avoided by proper choices). Elder Richards says that he, too, has "pondered about the purpose of pain."

In his talk, Elder Richards used a quote by Orson F. Whitney:

No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. … It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.

The idea that pain is useful is well and good, but while in the midst of pain—or helplessly viewing the pain of others—it is difficult to see the benefits of pain.

We read in 2 Nephi that Christ suffered "the pains of all men" (9:21-23) as part of the Atonement. I think I can understand the idea of a mediator paying the price of another, but if Christ suffered also the pains of us all, and we still experience the pain ourselves, I admit that I have wondered why. I've thought, wasn't the suffering of Christ enough to make it so we don't suffer pain ourselves?

When asking similar questions while in pain himself, Elder Richards concluded:

As I pondered, I came to understand that during His mortal life Christ chose to experience pains and afflictions in order to understand us. Perhaps we also need to experience the depths of mortality in order to understand Him and our eternal purposes.

To me, it sounds like pain is a way for us to meet Christ on common ground; it is an environment that he knows personally. When we are in pain, we may not always find our pain relieved when we find Christ in our suffering, but there is comfort in knowing that He is there, and we are not alone. This understanding helps me more fully appreciate and understand what Paul wrote in Hebrews 4:16:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

(NOTE: I often try to use an image or two to help share the feeling of a post. I purposely opted to not include an image of pain because we are all acquainted with it on some level, and it's not enjoyable to relive or see others in pain.)

0 thoughts