|"In the Wilderness" by Ron DiCianni|
I stumbled upon this depiction of Christ earlier this week, and it made me gasp. I'm not sure I can come up with the words to describe what feelings this painting stirred up inside me, but when I saw it, it brought me to a new understanding of Christ and what he suffered for me, or rather, it cemented what I had learned from reading about him in the scriptures.
I saw this picture and immediately thought, "Ah, he really does understand."
I appreciate this depiction of the darkness that looms and weighs so heavily upon us here in mortality. Of course, what Jesus Christ endured trumps anything we will ever be able to imagine experiencing in our lives, yet we are each allowed an opportunity to experience pieces of what he suffered.
Elder Kent F. Richards, when speaking about how The Atonement Covers All Pain said this:
"In the Book of Mormon, Alma also prophesied that 'he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and...he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people...'That his bowels may be filled with mercy...that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.'
"Late one night lying in a hospital bed...I read those verses over and over again. I pondered: "How is it done? For whom? What is required to qualify? Is it like forgiveness of sin? Do we have to earn His love and help? 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."
This last line of this quote from Elder Richards is perhaps the most treasured truth that I have received in the last year, and I am so thankful for it.
As I look around me and think of the suffering of others, my friend who recently lost her mother, the many children who were victims of abuse at the hands of evil, power and lust-hungry men, the woman who has seen her dreams of bearing a child dashed by miscarriage, the young woman who suffers of a broken heart because of the infidelity of her companion... I know that Jesus Christ has actually experienced their pain. I don't know the specifics of how, but I know that he has.
And strangely enough, there is great joy and thanksgiving in knowing that he knows. He understands, and that he can and will comfort us as we walk through our trials in mortality.
Last week, the missionaries stopped by to pick up some dinner that I had made for them, and in exchange they fed me.
They were inquiring about my efforts to share the gospel. I had heard from two people that day that they were not interested, and I was feeling sad about that in my heart. One of the elders opened up his Book of Mormon and read the following passage to me:
There's a lot to love about this passage of scripture, but at this time in my life, it just speaks to my heart. The first line makes me wonder about Jesus Christ. How many times did he become depressed and feel like turning back? And yet he didn't. He carried on through the weight of everything. He bore the sins of the entire world, with the added pleasure of insult added to injury, and humiliation rewarded to him for his great humility.
And why didn't he turn back?
Like Ammon and his companions, he suffered all of these afflictions that he might "save some soul". He would have done it, even if he knew that just ONE PERSON would hear his message and be saved. Truly there has never been greater love in all of the land. I hope that some day I can possess that love too. But for now, it gives me strength to know that the Savior bore our pains with patience and did not turn back. That he understands what we go through, and that His joy is full, because of the souls that he has brought back home. And our joy will also be full if we bring save it be one soul to him...our own.