Sunday, October 18, 2009
Sunday Reflection with Guest Reflector Craig Pankratz
I have asked one of my former students (and current friends) Craig Pankratz to give this week's Sunday Reflection. Craig was a huge help to me while he was in law school, and probably I learned more from him than he did from me. He is a man of deep and abiding faith, and I often look to his example in living according to one's beliefs. If you don't recognize a cite in his post, it is from the Book of Mormon. In this post, he reveals something about himself I didn't fully realize until now.
There is an aspect of salvation through Jesus Christ which Christians often overlook. We tend to focus on saving Grace, but we don't just need salvation from our sins. We also need salvation from the challenges, trials, sicknesses, sorrows, and heartache which accompany everyday life. And Jesus provides that, too. We'll call this "sustaining Grace."
No one is immune from trouble. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only perfect person to have ever walked the Earth. He went about doing good. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and caused the lame to leap, the blind to see, and the dumb to speak. He forgave sins. And He blessed children.
Yet His own community rejected Him. His brothers and sisters, although they did eventually believe in Him, did not believe that He was the Christ. The ruling classes of the Jews sought to destroy Him.
In Gethsemane, Jesus' suffering for the sins of the world was so great that He bled from every pore, and one of His best friends, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver. He was taken and judged by the rulers of the Jews. They mocked Him, beat Him, spit on Him, and delivered Him to Pilate to be crucified.
Pilate sent Jesus to be scourged. The whip the Roman soldiers used to scourge Him tore away chunks of His flesh. Then the soldiers made a crown of thorns and forced it onto His head. They mocked Him and eventually laid a cross on His back. The strain was so great that He could not carry it, and a spectator was forced to carry the cross for Him.
The Roman soldiers nailed Him to a cross. Passers by continued to mock Him. And in the darkness of Golgotha, God Himself forsook Jesus.
He was alone in His agony.
So Jesus understands perfectly what it is like to suffer as we do because He went "forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; . . . And he [took] upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he [took] 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." Alma 7:11-12. "Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." Isaiah 53:4.
And when the scriptures say Jesus took upon Himself our infirmities, griefs, and sorrows they mean all of our infirmities, griefs, and sorrows. There is no pain, sorrow, or affliction that He didn't feel. He knows what it's like to be beaten, tortured, murdered, hated, sick, depressed, anxious, and what any other problem common to us feels like.
I know that.
For years, I have struggled with depression. It's my own "thorn in the flesh." See 2 Corinthians 12:7 It started in High School. Off and on for years, I would experience episodes of deep depression. More than five years ago, after my application to become a Seminary Teacher―similar to a youth pastor―was denied, I fell into the deepest depression I have ever experienced. It's been laced with feelings of extreme inadequacy and worthlessness. And throughout law school and these first few years of law practice, I've struggled not to give up and surrender to it.
But knowing that Jesus felt it, too, I know that He knows how to succor me, and in my agony, He has not forsaken me. Often, I have felt Him wrap His arms around me to sustain me. Still, He hasn't yet removed this thorn from my flesh, but He continues to buoy me up in my weakness with His sustaining Grace. And I draw strength from His words: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.
And Jesus’ grace is sufficient for you, too.
Truly, sustaining Jesus has descended below all things to lift us to Him. D&C 88:6; D&C 122:8. And when we suffer, we need not suffer alone. For Jesus stands with open arms to receive us, to bind up our wounds, to dry our tears, and to bring us Home.
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Wow, Craig--you know, I bet lots of people have struggled with the same issue, or a similar one, as well as the trials of feeling inadequate in grad school, law school, or a new job. I certainly have. You are not alone.Post a Comment
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