Afflicted in Others’ Afflictions

Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me. D&C 97:8.

An excerpt from Bruce C. Hafen’s general conference address “The Atonement: All for All”, April 2004.

We must willingly give everything, because God Himself can’t make us grow against our will and without our full participation. Yet even when we utterly spend ourselves, we lack the power to create the perfection only God can complete. Our all by itself is still only almost enough—until it is finished by the all of Him who is the “finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2; see also Moro. 6:4) At that point, our imperfect but consecrated almost is enough.

There was a woman who felt her all, or best, wasn’t good enough. But the Lord said those who “observe their covenants by sacrifice … are accepted of me.” (D&C 97:8) I can envision Him walking the path from the tree of life to lift her up with gladness and carry her home.

Consider others who, like her, have consecrated themselves so fully that, for them, almost is enough:

A father who reached his outermost limits but still couldn’t influence his daughter’s choices; he could only crawl toward the Lord, pleading like Alma for his child.

A wife who encouraged her husband despite his years of weakness, until the seeds of repentance finally sprouted in his heart. She said, “I tried to look at him the way Christ would look at me.”

A husband whose wife suffered for years from a disabling emotional disorder; but to him it was always “our little challenge”—never just “her illness.” In the realm of their marriage, he was afflicted in her afflictions, (See D&C 30:6) just as Christ in His infinite realm was afflicted in our afflictions. (See D&C 133:53)

Almost is especially enough when our own sacrifices somehow echo the Savior’s sacrifice, however imperfect we are. We cannot really feel charity—Christ’s love for others—without at least tasting His suffering for others, because the love and the suffering are but two sides of a single reality. When we really are afflicted in the afflictions of other people, we may enter “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philip. 3:10) enough to become joint-heirs with Him.

May we not shrink when we discover, paradoxically, how dear a price we must pay to receive what is, finally, a gift from Him. When the Savior’s all and our all come together, we will find not only forgiveness of sin, “we shall see him as he is,” and “we shall be like him.” (Moro. 7:48; 1 Jn. 3:2.)

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