A Universal Atonement

burdenOne of the greatest blessings I have experienced has been watching the miracle of forgiveness unfold not only in my life but in the lives of others. We have all heard stories of people painfully burdened with sin, seek out a bishop and then, through the blessed atonement, have that heavy burden removed. With a renewed sense of hope, they walk away from that interview having that oppressive weight lifted.

Indeed, one of the greatest signs of God’s love for us is the promise that Christ has already paid the price for all of our sins. Because that steep price has been paid for all, we need not suffer, if we choose to repent.

The phrase, that Christ has suffered for the sins of all God’s children, may lead us to believe that the universal portion of the atoning sacrifice is found in the words ALL SINS. But I think we miss the depth of the Great and Last Sacrifice if we focus our attention solely on the freedom from sin that resulted.

The prophet Alma provided an inspired summary of the universality of this loving sacrifice. He explained that Christ’s suffering was not only for sin but includes “the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” Indeed, “he will take upon him their infirmities.”

Of course, sin can cause pain, sickness, and infirmities. But Alma’s words should give us hope that Christ’s atonement covers the pains, sickness, and infirmities, that are a natural consequence of mortality. This means we need never suffer aloneRegardless of the source of our pains, sickness, and infirmities, we can find solace through the enabling effects of the atonement.

Whether our mortal challenges stem from something we brought with us at birth, something that was thrust upon us by the poor decisions of others, or something that God, in His loving wisdom, needed for us to experience as part of the personal curriculum He created with us, we can have hope that God is empathetic to our needs.

wipetearsWe must be careful, however, not to assume that because Christ suffered for our sin, pains, sicknesses, and infirmities, that all such issues will be resolved simply by casting our burdens on the Lord. Yes, we can be free from sin, that much is clear. But there is also the promise that “Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” For most of the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges we face on a daily basis, the cure may not come until we are back in God’s presence.

Christ taught that most of our blessings will be deferred until we return “home to that God who gave us life.” We see this concept of delayed happiness in Lehi’s dream. Those who braved the filthy waters and tenaciously clung to the iron rod tasted of the love of God only after they made it to the tree. It is at the tree where God will wipe away their tears.

Here, on earth, we must hope that there is a purpose to our suffering. We must strive to develop the faith that there is a God who can cure us. We must believe that His perfect love, expressed through the atoning sacrifice, enables and empathetic God, who suffered for all sins, pains, sicknesses, and infirmities, to wipe away our tears.

Regardless of our challenges, God will never abandon us. We are all His children.

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