Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Joy and My Great Thanksgiving

"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.

But why?

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:
27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about toaturn back, behold, the Lord bcomforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with cpatience thinedafflictions, and I will give unto you success.
 28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
 29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their asynagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been bstoned, and taken and bound with cstrong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
 30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our ajoy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
 31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the afruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are bmany; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
 32 For behold, they had rather asacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have bburied their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren.
 33 And now behold I say unto you, has there been so great love in all the land? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, there has not, even among the Nephites.
 34 For behold, they would take up arms against their brethren; they would not suffer themselves to be slain. But behold howamany of these have laid down their lives; and we know that they have gone to their God, because of their love and of their hatred to sin.
 35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all apowerball wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a cmerciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
 36 Now if this is aboasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a bbranch of the tree of Israel, and has been clost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, dwanderers in a strange land.
 37 Now my brethren, we see that God is amindful of everybpeople, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

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.

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful.

    Jocelyn, where did you find that photo? I need one. It is an amazing depiction that I have never seen before. With the depression that I struggle with THIS is the photo I need hanging in my home. Thank you for finding it.

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  2. I just wanted to say how much I LOVE your blog, I love your ponderings and insight, understanding, convictions, motivations, testimony, and everything you share! You are such an inspiration to me and because of you and your blog, it is helping me to be better and to better my family, my testimony, and to do so much more with the time I have here on this earth.

    Thank you so much!!

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  3. My favorite part of that talk is how he talks about how Christ CHOSE to experience our pain. Because of his godly power he easily could have chosen not to actually experience the pain but only to understand it. He didn't. He chose to actually FEEL and EXPERIENCE the pain himself. That too has helped me understand and grow closer to Him to know that he chose to be closer to me through experience. I feel now WHY I feel closer to Him when I am humble and leaning on him through prayer and study. I am so thankful that he chose to carry my pain and all those literally. And it does encourage me to lean on him more and want me to get to know him better as well. What a tremendous gift that I am not even sure we will ever entirely understand until we are with Him again some day.

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  4. comforting knowledge. Where's the painting from-it's wonderful and so expressive...

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  5. It is verse 32 that strikes me. Conversion should mean love of all, even war faring people who are trying to take our life! That is huge when it is hard to love people that are good god fearing people and even harder yet to love people who dismiss you, refuse adult conversations to solve a problem or any other situation that brings tears, anger, etc.

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  6. You're right. That is a powerful picture, one I've never seen before, and your thoughts about it are right on target for me.

    Thanks for sharing them, reminding us how much we have to be grateful for, how completely the Lord understands us, and why we need to reach out to each other with the same love He has shown us.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jocelyn, to you and the family.

    =)

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  7. i am with everyone else. where did you get this? it is truly an emotional piece.

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  8. Beautifully said! Thank you for sharing your wonderful testimony.

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  10. Sorry, I tried to post a link to where you can purchase the print. The artist is Ron DiCianni. The title of the painting is "In the Wilderness". I will try and post the link again, but if it doesn't work you should be able to google him.
    http://www.tapestryproductions.com/products/artist/rondicianni/inthewilderness.php

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  11. That is a beautiful painting.

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  12. Oh that really is such a beautiful work--Thanks so much for sharing!

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  13. This is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing. =)

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  14. doesn't it make you wonder how He never got depressed and got snarky with people? I sure do. Lovely picture but I would not want it in my home.

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  15. Thank you for these beautiful thoughts, Jocelyn. What a wonderful reminder.

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  16. Beautiful picture and thoughtful article! Thank you!

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