When we understand everything the Savior does for us, He becomes the most important person in our lives.
Recently I read a blog post where the author talked about how the Savior plays a vital role in her daily life. I was happy she was willing to share her feelings, but I was saddened by one reader’s response: “He is of no importance whatever in my life never has been and never will be.”
But standing up doesn’t mean standing alone. We can always turn to the Prince of Peace when we feel alone or overwhelmed, sad or worried, afraid or worthless.
That reader couldn’t be more wrong. Sooner or later, all of us will need the Savior. We all make mistakes we cannot fix, experience losses we cannot recover, and face pains, persecution, tragedies, burdens, and disappointments we cannot handle alone.
The good news is that we don’t have to handle them alone.
“In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens,” said Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy.”
Jesus is important to us because through His Atonement, teachings, hope, peace, and example, He helps us change our lives, face our trials, and move forward with faith as we journey back to Him and His Father.
Jesus Makes Repentance Possible
One of the reasons Jesus is so important to those who sincerely try to follow Him is that all of us fall short and need the gift of repentance offered through the Atonement.
When we stumble and fall, Satan wants us to think we’re not good enough to get up and get back on the right path. He also wants us to forget that the gospel is “the gospel of repentance” (D&C 13:1; emphasis added). But we know that “the grace of Christ is real, affording both forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant sinner.”
The power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement is available to each of us, but we have to choose to let it work in our lives. Imagine giving a special gift to a friend—something your friend really needs and something you prepared through personal sacrifice. Then imagine your friend responding, “Thanks, but I don’t really want your gift.” How would you feel?
When we don’t invite Jesus to help us become clean through repentance, it’s as if we’re rejecting His gift.
Jesus Teaches Truth
On one occasion, after a number of people refused to walk any longer with Him, Jesus asked the Twelve Apostles, “Will ye also go away?” Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:67–68).
You can find the Savior’s “words of eternal life” in the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets, and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. They offer a foundation for “happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come,” and they guide us safely back to our Heavenly Father and our Savior.
What are some of the great truths the Savior taught? President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, listed four in a recent general conference talk:
- “Our Father has given His children the great plan of happiness.”
- “Through the Atonement … , we can live forever with our loved ones.”
- “We will have glorious, perfect, and immortal bodies, unburdened by sickness or disability.”
- “Our tears of sadness and loss will be replaced with an abundance of happiness and joy.”
Jesus Offers Hope
When we face serious challenges, sometimes we find it difficult to trust in the Lord. But trusting in Him brings us the hope we need in order to face our challenges.
That’s what happened with members of the Gatrell family, who live in Sister Jean A. Stevens’s ward. Sister Stevens, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, said the family held tight to the gospel and to their temple covenants after Brother Gatrell was diagnosed with cancer. Doing so gave them hope in God’s promises that they would be together again after this life.
Through the difficult days before her husband passed away, Sister Gatrell said, “I knew the Lord was watching over us. If you trust in the Lord, truly you can overcome any of life’s challenges.”
The gift of the Atonement gives us the hope of eternal life—something we need when we suffer trials or the death of a loved one.
“Our loving Heavenly Father gave us the gift of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior,” said President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency. “That great gift and blessing of the Atonement of Jesus Christ brings a universal inheritance: the promise of the Resurrection and the possibility of eternal life to all who are born.”
Jesus Offers Peace
If you’ve ever faced a natural disaster, been the subject of cruel gossip, experienced a life-changing challenge, had a falling-out with a friend, or stood up for what’s right, you know you need the Lord’s peace. “The peace of the Savior,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “subdues the swirling whirlwinds of the world.”
During a recent general conference, Elder Andersen shared a story about a Laurel who was ridiculed and called names for standing up for traditional marriage. Ridicule, she learned, is sometimes the cost of “being true to God and to the teachings of His living prophets.”
But standing up doesn’t mean standing alone. We can always turn to the Prince of Peace when we feel alone or overwhelmed, sad or worried, afraid or worthless. We do so by:
- Praying to Heavenly Father for the Spirit to be with us.
- Reading the Lord’s words in the scriptures and as revealed by living prophets.
- Attending the temple.
- Studying the Savior’s life at church and in seminary.
- Applying His Atonement by repenting of our sins.
- Sharing our testimonies of Him.
When we feel the Savior’s peace, our hearts need not be troubled or afraid (see John 14:26–27).
“Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering,” said President Thomas S. Monson. “He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity. He alone touches our tortured souls with His comforting words.”
Jesus Sets the Example
Throughout His ministry, Jesus doesn’t just point the way to happiness—He leads the way. Through His Atonement, He leads us to love. Through His teachings, He leads us to eternal truths. Through His perfect life, He leads us to the path of obedience.
“The greatest example who ever walked the earth is our Savior, Jesus Christ. His mortal ministry was filled with teaching, serving, and loving others,” said Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Savior, he added, “invites us to follow His perfect example.”
When we understand that the Savior makes possible repentance and resurrection, teaches vital truths, offers hope and peace, and sets the perfect example, He becomes the center of our lives. And with Him as our friend, we have the courage to cast out fear and move forward with faith.
Things to Ponder for Sunday
- How has the Atonement of Jesus Christ blessed your life?
- What words of Jesus do you turn to for comfort?
- Can you think of a time when you felt the Savior’s peace through the Holy Ghost?
Things You Might Do
- Record in your journal the next time the Savior’s example or teachings help you choose the right.
- Study the Atonement in preparation for taking the sacrament.
- Share your feelings about Jesus Christ with your family, at church, or on social media.
Share Your Experience
Why is Jesus Christ important in your life? Share your experience with other youth by commenting below.
This article originally appeared in the January 2015New Era.
Jerry, reflection on your experience of hearing God speak to you reminds me of others with similar accounts, and both lead me to consider a variety of questions. Various people in history have said God spoke to them, and now a friend of mine, whose sanity and rationality I do not doubt, is one of them. What am I to make of what he reports—and of what others reported long ago as well? I notice that as long as I am in the majority who has not had such an experience, I can comfortably view your and their accounts as curious, puzzling specimens of abnormal human experience. But even a brief look at what more than a few people have written at this website indicates that there are more like you than I imagined–yikes!—leaving me to wonder if we “normal” people are actually in the minority, and you all know something the rest of us don’t!
What should we make of such experiences? What do you make of your own experience, Jerry, and how do you compare it to other such cases in history? You have written eloquently of how you accepted the authenticity of what you experienced. But I know you acknowledge that such an acceptance is not the end of reflection on what has happened to you. Is God really speaking to you and to all of these people in history? What about the ancient prophets of the Hebrew scriptures, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea—did they really hear what they wrote down? Or did they invent it and deceive us? Or were they trying to give expression to what they thought God would say if God were to speak in a human language? But then why go to such lengths to describe a seemingly independent source of these thoughts? Whatever we conclude about them, should it also guide how we view other famous cases? What did Muhammad really hear or experience? Or Joseph Smith who founded the Mormons, or Mother Ann who started the Shakers? What about Baha’u’llah of the Bahais, Guru Nanak of the Sikhs, or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of the Ahmadiyyas?
Are what you and others report to be God’s messages identical or at least consistent, which could suggest they have the same source, or at least are parallel phenomenon? Or are these reports of God’s message incompatible, which could suggest not all of them can be valid, and we have to figure out how to sort through them? Or are none of them what they appear to be, and they should all be demythologized, deconstructed somehow? And in that case, do they tell us more about human beings than about claims for God’s reality or significance? Are the essential choices either “God really speaks to some people” or “This is all imaginary projection”? While these two appear to be mutually exclusive, is it possible in any sense for both to be true? Are there any additional possibilities?
Of course, any of us can choose to ponder these questions, and to many of us they may seem ultimately irresolvable. But most of us haven’t had the experience of hearing God speak, or even of believing we have received some inaudible kind of message from God. Thus, Jerry, you have an opportunity most of us do not have, to engage in an internal dialogue–between the mind which has had these experiences of God speaking, and the mind that can investigate, as logically and as objectively as one can, what these experiences mean.
And it’s an opportunity to compare, indeed, to test in some way, the validity of those experiences, or at least to probe their nature, by comparing them with the reports that others have similarly made. Some in your position might reply that doing so is in some way incompatible with accepting the authenticity of the experience, and might therefore deliberately choose not to “stand outside” themselves to examine their experience. But somehow I don’t think you are that kind of person. Nor do I myself think one must take such a position, although I acknowledge that on this I can only speak as an outsider. On the contrary, it seems to me, to be a human being is to be thrown into a life where we cannot avoid such questions, a life in which these questions assail and also intrigue us—and, yes, may also tempt with distracting digressions as well as enlighten with new understanding.
To take one example of this kind of comparing and testing: Muhammad said God told him there would be no subsequent messengers after him. Yet you are one of many since Muhammad (including several of those noted above) to say God has spoken to you, which already contradicts Muhammad’s account, and according to you, from what I can tell of your experience, God says something quite different than what Muhammad claimed, on this and many subjects. Leaving aside how orthodox Muslims would not only dismiss your claim but regard you as a deceiver and heretical blasphemer, what are we to conclude—and most importantly here, what do you conclude—about the relationship between Muhammad’s account and yours? Who is right, and why?
But perhaps neither claim should be judged by whether it corresponds to an objective reality, which in any case seems impossible to resolve empirically. Alternatively (and this, for now, is perhaps my response to my own inquiry here), we could interpret such claims through an hypothesis about how all humans are quite capable of finding within ourselves many voices. They range from the “ordinary” internal dialogues and conflicts we all experience, to the neuroses that in some way hobble most of us, to rarer instances of persons with multiple personalities, of cultures where spirit possession proliferates, and of shamans who mediated gods to their communities. All these voices give us information about the world, the whole of reality, and, simultaneously, information by means of which we try to navigate our way in that reality.
We may wish that the investigation of such experiences could end by telling us whose claims are correct and whose are false. I suspect we all cling (or one of the voices within us clings!) to the hope that there are certain experiences which can be divided into two groups—those to be either respected as authoritative, or dismissed as delusory. And obviously, sometimes we must, with fear and trembling, make such judgments about the more mundane, internal conflicts we all experience. But at least with regard to claims to have heard God’s voice, what seem to be questions about what we can know may really be questions about what we should value—about whether we should regard someone’s “abnormal” experiences as either privileged or pathological, as humans are so wont to do. That is, we would secretly like to find out whether an experience such as yours is something to which we should defer as a foundation for belief and authority (“does Jerry give us new proof of God?”), or is something meaningless or even dangerous (“should we ignore or humor Jerry, or perhaps pity or shun him?”).
But the more constant and sober truth seems, at least to me, to be that no experience—whether high or low, whether inspiring or suspicious, whether Jerry’s or someone else’s—no experience provides a magical answer to all our questions. And no experience excuses any of us, as either subjects or observers, from the tasks of life and the challenges of being faithful to God as best we can understand God. While that conclusion may be disappointing, there is at least one respect in which it leaves me glad: It preserves Jerry, certainly in my mind and I hope in his, from the burden of somehow having to prove he is neither weirdly gifted nor bizarrely deficient, and lets him continue to be himself—and just my friend.