Many of us have heard about the tragic events that occurred in Texas with the Stay family. 6 of the the 7 family members were killed leaving only the oldest daughter (15) still alive.
It’s a terrible, cowardly act of senseless violence that no doubt will be a very difficult challenge for Cassidy herself to deal with. I also imagine it is incredibly challenging for the parents of Cassidy, who were murdered, to look back on Cassidy realizing the challenges she will be facing here on Earth and not being able to physically be here to help her with it.
So what do we do? What happens when it is our time to face our own personal Gethsemane? Clearly, I’m not talking about the small, day to day issues that come up or talking about just having a bad day or week. I’m not even talking about the many legitimate (but in the grand scheme of things less important) stresses we might be dealing with in our lives.
No, I’m talking about the very small number of times in our lives where we are on the brink of even living. Where everything in our life is going wrong. The moments that not only can we not see the way out, we can’t see anything at all. Those moments where we feel completely lost and alone. Those times where you spend countless hours shedding tears on an already soaked pillow. Those nights where you wake up as deeply sadden as you did going to bed if not more so. I’m talking about those very limited times where the easiest choice in front of us may appear to be to just give up any hope of ever being happy again. I’m talking about those rare moments where the world literally turns dark to any happiness or joy we might have once had.
So what do we do in these situations? Where or who do we turn to? How do we move on? The easy Sunday School answer is to turn to Christ and the Redemptive and Atoning power of His Atonement. As often is the case, the Sunday School answer is the right one, albeit many times it just lacks a little depth in the response. So lets add a little depth to this response.
There are simply going to be times in our lives where no one else around us can perfectly understand the trials and tribulations that we are personally facing no matter how good their intentions may be. There are just going to be times where we fall on our knees pleading for help because we have nowhere else to go and nowhere else to look but up. It’s during these moments, almost out of necessity, that often times we start to receive a glimpse of His infinite and perfect love that God has for us.
These are the moments where our religion’s rubber meets the road. No more friendly platitudes in Relief Society, no more BYU/Utah jokes in Elder’s Quorum. These moments are where we need to know that God lives, that He hears us and that He loves us and we need to know them now. Either the church is true, Christ lives and the power of the Atonement really can change our lives or it doesn’t. These are the moments where statements such as “Families Can Be Together Forever” come front and center in our lives. Is it just a cute, sympathetic message to help us cope with death or is there real power in the eternities that binds generations and allows us to truly live with our loved ones again?
As painful, hopeless and dark as these moments may be, often times they provide us with the spiritual experiences that are so incredibly personal, that our faith and testimony in this gospel truly does “come forth polished as gold.”
Other examples of such a fiery furnace could be like Ashlee’s story when she found out her husband was murdered and was cheating on her all in the same night and was left to raise five children by herself. Or Stephanie’s story where in 2008, her and her husband Christian were in a airplane crash and over 80% of her body was burned.
Both of these individuals not only survived their challenges, but have come forth through these trials as shining beacons of hope for the rest of us and in this particular case Cassidy specifically. Remember that as we carry the various burdens we inevitably face in this life, it’s not the weight or size of the load that breaks us down but almost always the way we carry it.
An amazing quote from Elder Holland concerning Christ’s involvement in our lives during our own personal Gethsemane
“Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says to the poor in spirit, ‘Come unto me,’ He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.”
–Jeffrey R. Holland, Broken Things to Mend, April 2006
Remember that just like our Heavenly Father was keenly aware of the massive burden Christ was about to bear during that incredibly painful but necessary night in the garden, He is just as aware of the personal Gethsemanes that we are about to or currently going through in this life.
Just as Christ knew that His Father would be there for Him and that eventually the glorious Sunday morning would come to overcome any of the sorrows and pains felt just a few days earlier, we too will experience our own personal Sunday mornings where everything comes full circle. We just need to be patient enough to allow God the opportunity to justify our faith in Him.
Christ’s love is not dependent upon yours. The abundance or lack of love you demonstrate towards Him or yourself, does not increase or diminish His. He loves you perfectly and fully. Your strengths do not increase His love and your weaknesses certainly does nothing to diminish it. The epitome of charity, being the pure love of Christ, was demonstrated during that hollowed night at Gethsemane. We not only have to believe in Christ, we have to truly believe Christ. When He says that families have the opportunity to live with Him and our loved ones again, we need to believe that is the case.
As we continue with our faith in Him during our personal Gethsemane, we will come to know that He lives, that He truly loves us and that the glorious message of the restored gospel and eternal families truly is a reality. Regardless of the personal trials we face in our lives, the atoning power of Christ is here to provide us our own, incredibly personal story of redemption and will bring forth the warmth of our own glorious Sunday morning.