One of the aspects of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and power that is meaningful to me is the breadth and depth of experiences that He can bring us through—large and small. Life carries many challenges and tragedies that can bring us to our knees.
But sometimes, the fights we engage in or the traps we fall into aren’t comparatively significant. Jesus is aware of them nevertheless. He suffered for us so that we can overcome whatever separates us from God, regardless of the degree.
In the Parable of the Basement, a youth made a hasty decision to go where he had been directed not to, and the decision resulted in a fall and physical pain. He lay there in the dark, not managing and perhaps not daring to try to find his way out of the pitch black. Instead, he wondered if anyone realized where he was and if they cared. He called out for help, and his father responded.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught that “however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines” (“The Laborers in the Vineyard”).
It may feel for a time like the light isn’t shining. Many struggle with mental or emotional illness that causes them to likewise struggle to feel God’s love. But that love is still there, and the power behind His love combined with the power of our faith can allow it to break through. It may take some help from others, including professional health workers. This is an example of a significant problem to work through with the Lord’s help.
On the smaller end of the spectrum, I’ve had the experience more than once where I fell into a negative pattern of thought about something. Anytime I didn’t have something in particular to think about, my mind went to whatever the subject was and rehashed it over and over. I would get instantly irritated and soon be flirting with anger. As much as I tried to stop thinking about that subject, I couldn’t make myself do it. I was trapped in this cycle and couldn’t climb out on my own.
Like a beam of light, the thought came that I needed to ask for Christ’s help to move past those thoughts. I needed His help to stop feeding them or allowing them space on the stage of my mind. I asked earnestly for that help, and it came. The thoughts stopped dominating my attention and my emotions. What a relief that was. I had no doubt afterward that I had received divine grace and deliverance even though this could be seen as a minor challenge.
I thank Christ for condescending to help me with even such a small struggle to be master of myself. I love that He is so willing to extend His hand to me. However far I fall, whether a little or a lot, He has the power to reach me with His infinite light and bring me out of the dark.
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I love Elder Holland’s statement quoted in this article. And I relate to Ben’s experience of obsessive negative thoughts and the help God provides to overcome them. Thanks for sharing your experience, my friend.