Follow by Email!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

God Knows What's Best

This week in my New Testament class we have been talking about the suffering, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We learned about all the physical pains that He had to feel for our sake and the torture inflicted upon Him. This physical suffering was essential so that Jesus could know personally all of the pains that mankind feels. But to me what is even more touching is the mental and spiritual torture and suffering that He was called to endure. We know that Jesus has felt all of our sorrows, grief, pain, afflictions, and remorse (see Alma 7:11-13). He knows what it feels like to be rejected, wrongfully judged, guilty, and distant from the Spirit. As part of His sacrifice for us, He had to not only overcome physical death, but also spiritual death. Spiritual death is basically the complete separation of a spirit from Heavenly Father's presence and Spirit. Because we live on Earth, all of us are separated from the presence of God. We can feel glimpses of it through the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. But, for us to be able to return to the presence of the Father, Christ had to overcome this spiritual death. In Matthew 27, we read about the Crucifixion and death of Christ. In these moments of extensive physical pain and suffering, Jesus was required to overcome it alone. The Father had to withdraw His Spirit so that Jesus could feel and overcome a complete spiritual death. In verse 46, Jesus cries out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Even the Son of God, the Savior of the world, questioned the Lord's will a few times. However, He never forsake it and was perfectly obedient and trusting that the Father knew best.

Like the Savior, we too must trust in God's will. It is OK to have doubts, fears, uncertainties, and questions. Don't keep them to yourself! The Lord wants us to have questions and seek the answers to them. He wants us to learn and gain a testimony for ourselves. Sometimes in the search for guidance and answers we may feel like we aren't getting anything in response. We may feel abandoned, hopeless, and confused. We may wonder if the Lord is really even there, if He really cares, or if He will ever answer our questions. There are some things in this world that will take us a long time to understand; there are others that we will never understand in this life. I testify that although sometimes we may feel distant from the Lord, He truly has our best interests in mind and will never let us fail without first offering us help. Sometimes He is silent in answering our pleadings not because He doesn't love us or care about our concern, but because He wants us to grow from making our own choices and using our agency. It's like learning to ride a bike. When a father teaches his child to ride, he lets go once the child becomes comfortable and strong enough to pedal on her own. This is not because he doesn't care about protecting his child. He knows that she can do it on her own, and that if she does begin to wobble and fall he can always swoop in to catch her. I know from personal experience that the Lord loves us and knows what we most need to grow and develop. I know that sometimes this requires Him to pull back a little and let us "ride" on our own. He loves us so much that He lets us have our agency. He does not want us to be His "robots" whom He controls ; He wants us to become self-sufficient and capable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Coming unto God

This week in our New Testament class, we are reading and discussing about Jesus' last few days here on Earth. We are learning about the injustices and pains He had to face and the true depth of His sacrifice for mankind. He "fell on his face, and prayed, saying "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39). As I have been reading the New Testament this semester, I have noticed that Jesus always gives the glory, honor, and respect to the Father after He performs any sort of miracle. He never tries to boast, brag, or do His own will. Jesus knew His purpose and did not want to do anything to detract from fulfilling it. He came to Earth to perform what we call the "Atonement." This word literally means "the process of becoming at one", particularly with God. Therefore, Jesus came to Earth to help all of us be able to become "at one" with God the Father. Without Him, we would not ever be worthy to live with God. In order to be able to lift us up, Jesus had to descend below the depths of all sin, guilt, shame, sorrow, bodily pain, sickness, and temptations. He had to experience these feelings and rise above them. I always thought it was quite admirable that Jesus went through all these difficult things, yet all along was giving the credit to His Father. I used to wonder, "Why doesn't He take some of the credit for Himself? After all, He is doing a lot."

But, I have come to better understand that Jesus, like all of us, strives to serve the Father and do as He commands. While it is true that He underwent the utmost agony and sacrifice for the world, He gave the glory to the Father because it is He who makes it all possible. He pays the ultimate price. A great analogy that my professor gave this week helped me to understand this. He prompted us to think of the story of Abraham sacrificing his son, Isaac. Whenever we read this story, to whom do we give more respect and credit -- Abraham or Isaac? Of course, Isaac was the one that was going to die as a sacrifice. But, do we not revere Abraham for his strength and courage in being the one to perform the sacrifice? This is similar to the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ. Jesus is the mediator between God and man. He makes it possible for us to come to God because of His Atonement. However, if it were not for the Father and His great and eternal plan for our salvation, none of it would be possible!