[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]IN[/mks_dropcap]his mortal ministry, Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He was completely void of all forms of sin. He had perfect love, perfect service, perfect obedience, and perfect understanding. In all ways he is the perfect example to all of God’s children. This knowledge of Christ’s perfection can be disheartening, overwhelming, and can lead us to believe that our goal of being like him is an unachievable one. When these doubts about our own ability and worth enter our minds, we often times can become discouraged, or lost. In those dark and fearful times, where sin has become our nature and perfection seems a distant fable, we must remember the Lord said, “Fear not: for I am with thee” (Isaiah 43:5).
Our duration on Earth is meant to be a time of trial and testing. Many times we will be afraid, or afflicted with sadness. Many times we will be brought to our knees with tears in our eyes as we cry for relief or comfort. It is in these moments that we must look to God for assurance and love. He loves us and will stand with us.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, before Christ began the process of atonement, he cried unto his Father, “If thou be willing, remove this cup from me” (Luke 22:42). The perfect savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was weak. He cried to the Lord, like many of us do every night, asking for this trial and weight to be taken from off his shoulders. Christ was a man, and was therefore subject to the weakness that comes from a fallen body. Christ acted perfectly by following the will of God and taking the Atonement upon himself. An angel appeared and strengthened him (Luke 22:43); he bled from every pore as he “prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:44) to our Heavenly Father. This act of the Atonement was so painful that it caused Christ himself to “tremble because of pain…and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18). Even the most perfect person to live on Earth was subject to weakness, pain, and temptation. Elder Robert D. Hales said:
“Despite temptations, trials, and persecutions, the Savior trusted our Heavenly Father and chose to be faithful and obedient to His commandments” (Being a More Christian Christian, October 2012).
The Savior feared not, and trusted in the Lord. His faith is what allowed him to be the Redeemer, for without His faith, He could not have saved us. His faith is what saved us, and we must have that similar faith to return to God. Elder Neil L. Andersen says, “We treasure our faith, work to strengthen our faith, pray for increased faith, and do all within our power to protect and defend our faith” (Trial of Your Faith, October 2012). Many times, our faith becomes the only support we have to lean on. Even though trials are intended to strengthen us, they can be confusing and debilitating. These trials “take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us” (Andersen 2012). These weaknesses are not evil though. They are instead blessings from God.
The purpose of our mortal probation is to learn and progress. Our weaknesses and trials are opportunities to grow and develop.
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
Humility and faith are the key to making weak things strong.
One thing that we must remember is that weakness is not sin. When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, they were cast out, and the Earth fell. This fallen Earth brought forth thorns and thistles, and man began to work for his bread. Our bodies began to be created out of the fallen earth “for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Moses 4:25). Inherent from fallen materials would fallen creations come. In this state we are subjected to weakness of the flesh, disease, plague, fatigue, and all manner of plights. Our inherited weakness is not sin. The second Article of Faith reads “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” How often do we respond to our weaknesses with detest and frustration, confusing our human fallibility for sin?
In my own life I have often confused weakness with sin. I have same gender attractions that bring with them immoral thoughts and desires. This trial is a weakness in my life. I have been subject to ridicule within and outside of the Church, I feel a separation between myself and other men, and my attractions don’t allow me to feel certain affection towards women. My weakness is this attraction; my sin would be to act on impulses and desires forbidden outside of marriage. I have long felt that by the simple state of my being that I was not meant for the same love of God, same plan of salvation, or same life goals as my peers. I was somehow defective and just wrong by my nature alone. I had transgressed no eternal law by being born this way, but I felt an immediate separation from God because of my identity. We know from 1 Nephi 10:21 that “no unclean thing can dwell with God.” My mentality was incorrect. I supposed the weakness of my flesh equated to sin. Only my sins will separate me from God. Christ himself suffered temptations of the flesh, he felt what I feel when he atoned for me, but these things didn’t separate him from the Father.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]One thing that we must remember is that weakness is not sin.[/mks_pullquote]
These trials of faith are our opportunities to strengthen the weaknesses of our lives. A friend of Elder Andersen who also struggles with same sex attraction stated, “…Did we not come to earth to confront challenges and to show God our love and respect for Him by keeping His commandments?” (Andersen 2012) It can be overwhelming. Life often is at times. John counselled, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). When we allow fear to dominate, trials to overwhelm, and weakness to debilitate our lives, we must remember to have faith in the Lord, faith in Christ who descended below us all. I testify of a loving God. A God of miracles who will strengthen the weak, and fight their battles on every front.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.