Wayward Loved Ones and Christ

7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

“So great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.”

I noticed this verse differently today. If you take a second to look at how this sentence is set up, there are two different ways from which to pull insights.

A Familiar Way

There’s the traditional way. We are all aware that Christ bled from every pore as He suffered for our sins and afflictions. The pain and pressure and suffering were so immense, it caused Him to have a literal physical reaction. Many things have been said about these scriptures that are worth noting. If you’re looking for a couple extra resources to study, here’s a pretty good list:

The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope by President James E. Faust

The Atonement and Salvation by James E. Talmage

Missionary Work and the Atonement of Jesus Christ by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

The Purifying Power of Gethsemane by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

While I could talk for a while about this sacred part of the atonement, these talks say it much better than I ever could. Instead I want to focus on the small nuance of grammar that prompted this post. 

What was His suffering truly about?

We don’t understand really how the suffering came about, and we don’t really understand how it paid for our sins and afflictions. To top it all off, we also don’t understand how the effects of this Atonement is passed into our lives.

However, I want you to read this sentence again as if it were standing alone.

“So great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.”

This verse is different than many other verses in the scriptures. Many verses that speak of the Atonement talk about how His anguish was great, but it is said in a way that makes it seem like He just started suffering somehow (like I said before, we don’t really understand how it started happening).

However, this verse almost makes it seem like He started suffering as He thought about the wickedness and abominations of His people. Picture it. He started to become heavy and maybe this is because He started to ponder just how much cruelty this world would be capable of. 

Many good revelatory experiences start with our own thoughts and pondering before moving on to Heavenly Father blessing us with revelation.

Perhaps Christ’s anguish started with His own personal thoughts and feelings about the world lying in sin and the suffering that would come because of it. I say “perhaps” because the scriptures don’t explicitly say.

But what insights can we get from an idea like that?

In 2 Nephi 4:31, Nephi asks the Lord to make him “shake at the appearance of sin.” A literal and physical negative manifestation towards sin.

Blood came from every pore because His anguish for our sins was so great. 

While we know that blood came from every pore because His anguish was great from His suffering for our sins, perhaps He hated sin as much as Nephi wished to hate sin that it caused Him to literally anguish over it.

Any parent with a wayward child knows this feeling.

Many people with wayward siblings or parents or friends or spouses understand this feeling.

It can ache to the point of physical manifestations.

But. This is yet another way that Christ understands you perfectly. He anguished over the sins of the people He loved just as you do. Take comfort in the fact that He aches with you. Pain and loneliness aren’t as difficult when you have someone to share it with.

Take comfort in the fact that there is a Being who loves your wayward loved one more than you do; take heart in the fact that He is more powerful than anything in existence. And while we may wish that He would just change things and change people, we trust in His wisdom that He lets us keep our agency. Change is more powerful when it’s brought about by our own agency. 

He knows your loved one. He loves your loved one. He is doing everything, EVERYTHING, He can within the bounds of agency to save your loved one.

And He suffered because of their choices just like you do.

You’re not alone in your pain. You are never alone in any kind of pain you may be experiencing.

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