I realized a few months ago that the motivation behind my faith in the Savior is not the idea that He lived and taught as a man. I know Jesus Christ was a real person who lived, and taught, and converted people; who suffered in Gethsemane and was crucified at Golgotha. I know He suffered for my sins and he suffered for yours. He suffered so we could be comforted and lifted up in our times of trial. He died for you and for me.
This week marks the last week of the Savior's ministry on the earth. The 29th marked Palm Sunday and His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. This Thursday, the 2nd of April, is the anniversary of the Last Supper and His suffering in the Garden. On Friday, Christ was crucified and died before the day was over. These events are reason enough to reverently remember the Savior and all He did for us while on the earth, but it is the events that took place on Sunday morning that set His ministry apart.
On Friday evening, Christ's body was taken and laid in a sepulchre. And on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb, but it was empty. An angel answered Mary's surprise and said, "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen" [Matt 28:5-6].
If I have learned anything in the past few months, the past year even, it's that when you are trying to do what is right, opposition increases on every side and comes from every angle. It was hard to make the decision to serve when I thought about all of the things I could do in that period of 18 months. It was hard to get everything done for my papers when doctor's appointments got complicated and certain pieces just wouldn't fall together. As my departure date gets closer, I have noticed two significant changes in my life. The first is a distinct increase in hardships, temptations, trials, and feelings of inadequacy. Each day it feels like life gets harder and some days it's as though no matter what I do or how hard I pray, things don't seem to get better. But as I have struggled, I have truly come to feel my Savior's love, the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and the love of my Heavenly Father.
And that is the second change I have noticed: I am NEVER alone. I never was alone, but being so dependent on my Savior has made me recognize that even when I feel I don't need anyone and I don't feel lonely, He is ALWAYS right beside me to cheer me through the good days and hold me through the bad ones. We have all felt like there is no one around to build us up or walk the hard path with us. We have all felt like the world has turned its back on our suffering and there is no one to notice how sad we feel. We have all felt the heartache of loneliness and the pain and frustration that comes when we are faced with trials that seem unfair. But Because He Lives and because I have prayed to know my Savior, when I feel alone in numbers, I know and I feel I am never truly alone.
Because He Lives, the joy comes after the sorrow. Through finding strength in my Savior, I can smile through the sadness and laugh in spite of the pain. Because He Lives, I know all things that happen in life-- the good and the bad, or the happy and the sad-- happen for a reason. I know it is how I choose to respond to my trials that will determine who I become. Because He Lives, we all have the opportunity to one day be like Him, and I want nothing more than that. I am grateful for the strength my Savior gives me because without Him, I would not be here right now and I could not have pushed through all of my trials. Without Christ, it seems like giving up is an easy thing to do and that is why I have chosen to have Christ at center of my life. I don't want to give up, but I know I can't do it on my own.
In 50 days I enter the MTC to begin this great adventure and although I've been through many trials of my faith, I know my mission will simultaneously be the biggest faith builder and the biggest faith tester. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to get ready for my mission because I know the better prepared I am, the better prepared I'll be to represent the Savior. It's a miracle I've made it to today, but I have only made it because of the greatest miracle of all: the fact that Christ lives. When I feel lonely or weak, I have Christ to lean upon. He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my brother, my Master, my Lord, my friend. He heals. He loves. He knows. He lives.