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The Exquisite Gift of the Son (Matthew S. Holland)

 For anyone today with pains so intense or so unique that you feel no one else could fully appreciate them, you may have a point. There may be no family member, friend, or priesthood leader—however sensitive and well-meaning each may be—who knows exactly what you are feeling or has the precise words to help you heal. But know this: there is One who understands perfectly what you are experiencing, who is “mightier than all the earth,”17 and who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that [you] ask or think.”18 The process will unfold in His way and on His schedule, but Christ stands ready always to heal every ounce and aspect of your agony.

As you allow Him to do so, you will discover that your suffering was not in vain. Speaking of many of the Bible’s greatest heroes and their griefs, the Apostle Paul said that “God … provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.”19 You see, the very nature of God and aim of our earthly existence is happiness,20 but we cannot become perfect beings of divine joy without experiences that test us, sometimes to our very core. Paul says even the Savior Himself was made eternally “perfect [or complete] through sufferings.”21 So guard against the satanic whispering that if you were a better person, you would avoid such trials.

You must also resist the related lie that your sufferings somehow suggest you stand outside the circle of God’s chosen ones, who seem to glide from one blessed state to another. Instead, see yourself as John the Revelator surely saw you in his majestic revelation of the latter days. For John saw “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, [who] stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, … [who] cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God.”22

When asked: “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” John received the answer: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”23

Brothers and sisters, suffering in righteousness helps qualify you for, rather than distinguishes you from, God’s elect. And it makes their promises your promises. As John declares, you “shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on [you], nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed [you], and shall lead [you] unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from [your] eyes.”24

“And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”25

I witness to you that through the staggering goodness of Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement, we can escape the deserved agonies of our moral failings and overcome the undeserved agonies of our mortal misfortunes. Under His direction, your divine destiny will be one of unparalleled magnificence and indescribable joy—a joy so intense and so unique to you, your particular “ashes” will become beauties “beyond anything earthly.”26 That you might taste this happiness now and be filled with it forever, I invite you to do what Alma did: let your mind catch hold on the exquisite gift of the Son of God as revealed through His gospel in this, His true and living Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Matthew S. Holland

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