“The Gift Only He Could Give,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 70
The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in the history of the world. Through His Atonement, the Savior made it possible for every person born into mortality to be resurrected. And to all who receive the ordinances and strive to keep the covenants of His gospel, the Lord promises exaltation in the celestial kingdom. President Brigham Young taught that “Christ has died for all. He has paid the full debt, whether you receive the gift or not.” Further, “all who attain to any glory whatever, in any kingdom, will do so because Jesus has purchased it by his atonement” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 38).
The Atonement of Jesus Christ not only makes it possible for us to be resurrected and have eternal life but also motivates us to become compassionate, patient, and forgiving persons—especially when faced with hardship. These gifts come to those earnestly seeking to be the Lord’s disciples.
When her husband confessed betraying her, one sister struggled to forgive him. She prayed to Heavenly Father for help and sought relief as she studied the scriptures and attended the temple. “As I look back,” she writes, “I realize that it was during those long, prayerful moments that I tapped into a life-giving source of comfort from my loving Heavenly Father. I sense that he was not standing by glaring at me for not having accomplished forgiveness yet; rather he was sorrowing with me as I wept. He loved me. … I had always viewed the Atonement as a means of making repentance work for the sinner. I had not realized that it also makes it possible for the one sinned against to receive into his or her heart the sweet peace of forgiving” (“My Journey to Forgiving,” Ensign, Feb. 1997, 43).
As we forgive, we emulate Heavenly Father and His Son and feel their love. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles describes the divine example we should follow: “God is not a jealous being who delights in persecuting those who misstep. He is an absolutely perfect, compassionate, understanding, patient, and forgiving Father. He is willing to entreat, counsel, strengthen, lift, and fortify” (“Finding Forgiveness,” Ensign, May 1995, 75).
We all experience challenges and different degrees of suffering because of our own sins or the sins of others. During difficult times, we would do well to turn our thoughts to our Savior’s supreme sacrifice—a gift of infinite love only He could give. A favorite hymn reminds us to remember Him:
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
(“I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, no. 193, verse 3)
Bishop Henry B. Eyring, now of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said that “the Atonement working in our lives will produce in us the love and tenderness we need. And by remembering Him and His gift, which we promise to do as we take the sacrament each week, we can put a light of hope in our faces which those we love need so much to see” (“The Spark of Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 75).
We can show we remember the Savior and His Atonement by doing such things as welcoming a wayward child home, being patient and considerate with an aging parent, accepting others’ differences more readily, and living in hope of eternal life.