Monday, June 30, 2008

Aggregate Agony and Personal Pain

I ran across a few paragraphs today that gave me hope and peace. They reminded me of a doctrine I have been taught, but often forget. I’ll quote them here, without further comment:

“We know that on some level Jesus experiences the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that He experienced everything — absolutely everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism...

”His last recorded words to his disciples were, "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). What does that mean? It means he understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down's syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children who ever come are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He's been there. He's been lower than all that.”

(Chieko N. Okazaki, Lighten Up! pg. 174-175)

1 comment:

  1. The story was told in my presence (by the friend of a son of the family) of a father who was a church leader, committed adultery, suffered a divorce and then committed suicide. The son relating this story to his friend who retold it to me and others was then visited by a general authority who assured him that his father's terrible problems and actions were paid for through the atonement. The general authority then quoted to the son this verse:

    Alma 7
    [12] And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

    "Infirmities" covers a great deal of territory I think.