3. He Will Take upon Him the Pains and the Sicknesses of His People

“He will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of 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 7:11–12).

Realizing That No Blessings Will Be Denied

We want to have eternal families, but our loved ones’ choices can threaten our hopes. Fearing we may lose our eternal family may cause us to experience significant feelings of grief. We may find ourselves in a crisis of faith and be tempted to give up on Heavenly Father’s plan. Many of us feel that we are just hanging on, clinging to God out of habit, reflex, or desperation. It can be hard to move forward through the pain of broken promises and threatened dreams. The choice we face is whether or not to have faith in God, even when we can’t see how God’s promises will be kept. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:

“We cannot control and we are not responsible for the choices of others, even when they impact us so painfully. I am sure the Lord loves and blesses husbands and wives who lovingly try to help spouses struggling with such deep problems as pornography or other compulsive behavior or with the long-term consequences of childhood abuse.

“Whatever the outcome and no matter how difficult your experiences, you have the promise that you will not be denied the blessings of eternal family relationships if you love the Lord, keep His commandments, and just do the best you can” (“Divorce,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 73).

  • How have your expectations and dreams been impacted by the choices of your loved one?

  • Why do you need to believe the promises of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and not just believe in Them?

Allowing Jesus Christ to Heal Our Deepest Pain and Sorrow

If we allow it to, the pain and sorrow resulting from our loved ones' choices can lead us to the Savior. The Atonement is not only for overcoming death and sin, but it is also for healing our pain, sorrow, and every other affliction. Elder C. Scott Grow said, “Through His Atonement, He heals not only the transgressor, but He also heals the innocent who suffer because of those transgressions” (“The Miracle of the Atonement,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 109). The Spirit will help us understand that Christ knows our pain because He has literally taken upon Himself our pains and sicknesses (see Alma 7:11). We can find hope through the enabling power of Jesus Christ that we will be healed and supported in our trials no matter the choices and actions of our loved ones. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them like the Apostle Paul—is available for every affliction in mortality” (“He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 8). Real healing does not become complete until we turn to the Savior.

  • When have you felt peace and hope through the Savior despite heavy burdens?

  • What might prevent you from coming unto Christ and exercising faith in Him so that He can heal you?

​Giving Our Burdens to the Lord

As we come unto Christ in faith and rely upon Him to bear our heavy burdens, we can experience His healing power. Elder Richard G. Scott counseled, “Many of you suffer needlessly from carrying heavy burdens because you do not open your hearts to the healing power of the Lord. . . . Lay the burden at the feet of the Savior” (“To Be Free of Heavy Burdens,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 86, 88). The Lord is anxious to bless us. We can find great strength as we give our burdens to the Lord, “relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19). Unfortunately, we may still suffer the consequences of our loved ones’ poor choices. Yet we can receive His peace—that peace “which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)—despite our circumstances.

As we strive to come unto Christ and exercise our faith in Him, He will give us strength beyond our own. Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). When we remember that our Savior is there to help us, our simple faith will grow and increase. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, “The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 94).

  • What do you feel it means to lay your burdens at the feet of the Savior?

  • What burdens will you lay at His feet? 

​Understanding That Change Takes Time

We may find ourselves impatient for change to occur because we are anxious to stop hurting. Even though we do all that we can to seek healing and we acknowledge that the Lord is helping us, we still recognize that the healing and recovery process takes time. While continuing to have hope for changes in the near future, we also need to be willing to accept that some changes may take a lifetime or longer. Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated, “Not all problems are overcome and not all needed relationships are fixed in mortality. The work of salvation goes on beyond the veil of death, and we should not be too apprehensive about incompleteness within the limits of mortality” (“Powerful Ideas,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 26). Our loved ones may choose not to change, may struggle with having the motivation to change, may relapse, and may continue to be tempted. While we need to allow them time and space to repent, we do not tolerate abusive behavior in any form (see principle 8, “Be Firm and Steadfast,” section titled “Recognizing We Need Not Endure Our Loved Ones’ Abusive Behavior"). We have the opportunity to actively hope and pray for our loved ones, supporting them as they progress and come unto the Savior and seek healing.

  • How can you develop and demonstrate faith in the face of adversity?

  • How can faith help you heal even if your loved one fails to maintain recovery?

Gospel Study

As you study the resources listed below, prayerfully consider how you can apply the principles they teach. 

Isaiah 49:13–16 (The Savior will not forsake us.)

Hebrews 4:14–16 (We can find help in times of need through the Savior’s grace and mercy.)

2 Nephi 9:21Alma 7:11–13 (The Savior took upon Himself our pains and afflictions.)

3 Nephi 9:13–14 (Christ heals us as we come unto Him.)

3 Nephi 17:5–20 (Christ desires and offers to heal us.)

C. Scott Grow, “The Miracle of the Atonement,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 108–10

Kent F. Richards, “The Atonement Covers All Pain,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 15–17

Chapter 5, “Accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 37–40

Videos: “Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ“ and “My Joy is Full"

Personal Learning and Application

The following activities are to enhance your learning and application of these principles. Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these activities will provide you with new insights.

  • Study and ponder scriptures about Jesus Christ and His Atonement. What do these scriptures teach about the power of the Savior? Why are these passages meaningful to you? How can the Savior strengthen you even if your loved one continues in his or her addiction? Consider sharing these scriptures and your thoughts with someone and discussing how the Atonement has strengthened you.

  • Look through the Gospel Art Book, and find pictures about receiving peace and healing through the Atonement. For example, Calming the Storm could represent how Christ can give us peace and comfort in our lives as we weather our own storms. Study the scriptures related to the pictures (references are found below the title of the picture when viewing online), and ponder what you learn or feel about the Atonement.

  • Study and ponder Elder Kent F. Richards’s talk “The Atonement Covers All Pain,” or watch the video “Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ.” What do you learn about the Atonement? What stands out to you? What promptings do you receive? What parts provided comfort for you in your struggles?

  • Study Alma 7:11–13, 2 Nephi 9:21, and the definition of “Grace“ in the Bible Dictionary. What do you learn about the Atonement and how it can bless your life? What will you do to access the Atonement more fully in your life?

  • Consider the principles taught in these hymns: “Come unto Jesus“ (Hymns, no. 117); “How Gentle God’s Commands“ (Hymns, no. 125); “Sweet Hour of Prayer“ (Hymns, no. 142).