I love General Conference weekend. It’s a wonderful opportunity to snuggle with the family and listen to the messages. We eat plenty of popcorn and other treats while we relax. It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite talk because I enjoy all of them. Each of the talks has something for me. Even through the television broadcast, I can feel the strong testimonies of those speaking and the Spirit fills my home.
At the last conference, I believe, Elder Wirthlin struggled a bit with keeping steady during his talk. Russell M. Nelson stood up behind him and gave him the extra support he needed to finish his talk. That simple gesture brought tears to my eyes and communicated the great love and respect the brethren have for each other.
One of the talks that especially struck me during this conference was Jeffrey R. Holland's talk on the atonement. Though there was some chattering going on at my house, the Spirit enveloped us as he spoke about the Savior’s last days of mortality.
I listened to his talk through tears because I felt completely wrapped in the Spirit. He recounted the time in the Garden of Gethsemane. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea how the Savior physically endured such sorrow and agony. I know how painful it is to lose someone I love to death or, worse, lose them to sin. I cannot imagine the depth of the pain he suffered, or how he did it.
I don’t know that I’ll ever fully comprehend His sacrifice for me. I have thought about it over the years as I’ve struggled through my own trials. Knowing that He experienced all the feelings that I have has helped me. One thing I’ve never considered, though, until Elder Holland's talk was His faith.
Since Jesus communicated regularly with Heavenly Father and lead a perfect life in which He was entitled to the constant companionship of the Father, I never thought about what it must have felt like when the Father withdrew as Jesus hung on the cross and uttered, “ . . . My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? “ (Matthew 27:46). During that period of time, Jesus had to rely on His own faith that though He couldn’t feel the Father’s presence, He was still there. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Isn’t that how it is for us? I have felt Heavenly Father’s influence more strongly at certain times of my life. I have experienced undeniable answers to prayers, but as time passes and memory dims, I have to rely on my faith that He’s still there, that He still hears and answers prayers, that He is real.
During that critical time on the cross, Jesus did, in fact, experience what it is like to be mortal without that constant connection to Heavenly Father. Not only does the Savior know every emotion that we can have, He also knows what it’s like to experience mortality without the direct influence of Heavenly Father.
Jesus has experienced the range of emotions that we have. He knows what it’s like to feel the Spirit depart—just like we do when we break a commandment. He understands each of us because he’s experienced it, including relying on faith. That’s why the atonement works and why we must allow it to work in our own lives. He is the Redeemer of the world.
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