Over the past two years, I have grown to truly love and treasure the Atonement of Christ. I have come to better understand what it means to me and what it does for me personally, as well as for the people in my life. There are infinite blessings that come from this infinite offering of love made possible by the Savior. Two scriptural accounts in particular have taught me about the enabling power of the Atonement this past week.
The first is found in Matthew 14 of the New Testament when Peter walked on water during a fierce storm towards Jesus. At first he was able to maintain balance upon the waves because he kept his sight on Christ; as soon as he allowed the potential danger of his situation surrounding him to fill him with fear, he began to drown. It was in this moment that “immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him” (verse 31). Then Jesus uttered these unexpected words, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” When reading this at first, it is easy to jump to conclusions and think that maybe Christ was being a little harsh in saying this to Peter; however, there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. Our growth and progression as children of God in a difficult, imperfect world is much more important to the Savior than living a pain-free, blissful existence all our lives. He requires us to rely on faith and leave our comfort zones from time to time in order to become more like Him.
This was the case for Alma and Amulek in Alma 14 of the Book of Mormon when teaching in the land of Ammonihah. They witnessed the death of hundreds of innocent people and were cast into prison for the things they had preached. During their time in prison, they were mercilessly beaten, hit, spit upon, starved, mocked, and questioned. They suffered all these things in silence. Verse 25 says that the lawyers and priests “all went forth and smote them [Alma and Amulek], saying the same words, even until the last; and when the last had spoken unto them the power of God was upon Alma and Amulek, and they rose and stood upon their feet”. I love the symbolism found in this verse. They had suffered all these things even down to the last hit from the last person; that was when they found the strength within themselves placed there by the Lord to rise up from the ground. The Savior, while suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, took upon Himself every last sin, every last pain imaginable, for every last person who ever lived, before rising again to face the next challenge. Alma and Amulek were able to call upon God and “[break] the cords with which they were bound” because of their faith in Christ. This faith had waxed stronger through personally experiencing the enabling power of the Savior over a long period of time.
I would venture to say that we may be asked to suffer very difficult, trying experiences for extended periods of time- even until the last moment when we feel completely spent and hopeless- in order to fully appreciate the wonders and miracles made possible through the Atonement. Christ will always extend His hand to us in the storm, help us rise to our feet and break the cords which bind us, and save us from destruction when we call on His name and exercise faith in His infinite power. Such times are opportunities for us to become pure vessels of unshaking faith and trust in the One who loves us unconditionally and sees our potential to become great.