“Trust in the Savior’s Deliverance,” Ensign, April 2019
For those of us who have lost loved ones, the road ahead can be sad and lonely—even more so for those without a knowledge and testimony of the Atonement and Resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ. You recall His two doubtful disciples on the road to Emmaus. The resurrected Lord drew near to them and asked why they were sad. Luke gives us the answer:
“And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
“And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
“But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke 24:19–21).
We draw comfort from our knowledge and testimony that it was He who redeemed Israel. It was He who “[broke] the bands of death” (Mosiah 15:23). It was He who became “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). It was He who made possible temple covenants that bind us forever to those we “have loved long since, and lost awhile!”1
At this Easter season, I would like to share part of a devotional message I delivered a few years ago about the Savior’s power of deliverance. It strengthened me as I prepared it and delivered it. I pray that it will strengthen you as you read it.
Life ends early for some and eventually for us all. Each of us will be tested by facing the death of someone we love.
The other day I met a man I had not seen since his wife died. It was a chance meeting in a pleasant social holiday situation. He was smiling as he approached me. Remembering his wife’s death, I phrased the common greeting very carefully: “How are you doing?”
The smile vanished, his eyes became moist, and he said quietly, with great earnestness, “I’m doing fine. But it’s very hard.”
It is very hard, as most of you have learned and all of us will sometime know. The hardest part of that test is to know what to do with the sorrow, the loneliness, and the loss that we can feel as if a part of us has been lost. Grief can persist like a chronic ache. And for some, there may be feelings of anger or injustice.
The Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection give Him the power to deliver us in such a trial. Through His experience, He came to know all our griefs. He could have known them by the inspiration of the Spirit, but He chose instead to know by experiencing them for Himself. This is the account:
“And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take 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 7:10–12).
Good people around you will try to understand your grief at the passing of a loved one. They may feel grief themselves. The Savior not only understands and feels grief but also feels your personal grief that only you feel. And He knows you perfectly. He knows your heart.
The Savior knows which of the many things you can do that will be best for you as you invite the Holy Ghost to comfort and bless you. He will know where it is best for you to start. Sometimes it will be to pray. Sometimes it will be to go comfort someone else. I know of a widow with a debilitating illness who was inspired to visit another widow. I wasn’t there, but I am certain that the Lord inspired a faithful disciple to reach out to another and thus was able to succor them both.
There are many ways the Savior can succor those who grieve, each fitted to them. But you can be sure that He can and will do it in the way that is best for those who grieve and for those around them. One constant when God delivers people from grief is that they feel childlike humility before Him. A great example of the power of faithful humility comes from the life of Job (see Job 1:20–22). Another constant, which Job also had, is abiding faith in the power of the Savior’s Resurrection (see Job 19:26).
We all will be resurrected, including your loved ones who die. The reunion we will have with them will not be ethereal but with bodies that will never die nor age nor become infirm.
When the Savior appeared to His Apostles after the Resurrection, He not only reassured them in their grief but also all of us who might ever grieve. He reassured them and us this way:
“Peace be unto you. …
“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:36, 39).
The Lord can inspire us to reach out for the power of deliverance from our grief in the way best suited to us. We can choose to serve others for the Lord. We can testify of the Savior, of His gospel, of the restoration of His Church, and of His Resurrection. We can keep His commandments.
All of those choices invite the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Ghost who can comfort us in the way suited to our need. And by the inspiration of the Spirit, we can have a testimony of the Resurrection and a clear view of the glorious reunion ahead. I felt that comfort as I looked down at the gravestone of someone I knew—someone I know that I can at some future time hold in my arms. Knowing that, I was not only delivered from grief but also filled with happy anticipation.
Had that little person lived to maturity, she would have needed deliverance in another set of trials. She would have been tested to stay faithful to God through the physical and spiritual challenges that come to everyone. Even though the body is a magnificent creation, keeping it functioning is a challenge that tests us all. Everyone must struggle through illness and the effects of aging.
The power of deliverance from our trials is in place. It works in the same way as the deliverance from the trial that comes in facing the death of a loved one. Just as that deliverance is not always to have the life of a loved one spared, the deliverance from other trials may not be to remove them. The Lord may not give relief until we develop faith to make choices that will bring the power of the Atonement to work in our lives. He does not require that out of indifference but out of love for us.
A guide for receiving the Lord’s power of deliverance from opposition in life was given to Thomas B. Marsh, then the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was in difficult trials, and the Lord knew he would face more. Here was the counsel to him that I take for myself and offer you: “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:10).
The Lord always wants to lead us to deliverance through our becoming more righteous. That requires repentance. And that takes humility. So the way to deliverance always requires humility in order for the Lord to be able to lead us by the hand where He wants to take us through our troubles and on to sanctification.
Trials can produce resentment or discouragement. The humility you and I need for the Lord to lead us by the hand comes from faith. It comes from faith that God really lives, that He loves us, and that what He wants—hard as it may be—will always be best for us.
The Savior showed us that humility. You have read of how He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane while He was suffering a trial on our behalf beyond our ability to comprehend or to endure or even for me to describe. You remember His prayer: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
He knew and trusted His Heavenly Father, the great Elohim. He knew that His Father was all-powerful and infinitely kind. The Beloved Son asked in humble words—like those of a little child—for the power of deliverance to help Him.
The Father did not deliver the Son by removing the trial. For our sakes He did not do that, but He allowed the Savior to finish the mission He came to perform. Yet we can forever take courage and comfort from knowing of the help that the Father did provide:
“And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
“And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
“And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (Luke 22:43–46).
The Savior prayed for deliverance. What He was given was not an escape from the trial but comfort enough to pass through it gloriously.
His command to His disciples, who were themselves being tested, is a guide for us. We can determine to follow it. We can determine to rise up and pray in great faith and humility. And we can follow the command added in the book of Mark: “Rise up, let us go” (Mark 14:42).
From this, you have counsel for passing the physical and spiritual tests of life. You will need God’s help after you have done all you can for yourself. So rise up and go, but get His help as early as you can, not waiting for the crisis to ask for deliverance.
I bear you my solemn witness that God the Father lives and loves us. I know that. His plan of happiness is perfect, and it is a plan of happiness. Jesus Christ was resurrected, as we will be. He suffered so that He could succor us in all of our trials. He paid the ransom for all of our sins and those of all of Heavenly Father’s children so that we could be delivered from death and sin.
I know that in the Church of Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost can come to comfort and to cleanse us as we follow the Master. May you receive His comfort and succor in your times of need, through all the tests and trials of your life.