During His last night in mortality, Jesus 'took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto [his disciples], saying, this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. …This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you' (Luke 22:19-20). Today, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints partake of the sacrament each week to remember the sacrifice Christ made for all of humankind
A Call to Action
This weekly charge to 'remember' Christ is much more than the mere recollection of the events that took place two thousand years ago. Partaking of the sacrament is a call to action. It is an invitation to live the kind of life that Christ lived. To those who found His teachings difficult to understand or believe, Jesus said: 'My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16-17; emphasis added).
When we exercise the faith to apply Christ's teachings in our lives, a witness of their reality will come. Christ promised that as we apply His teachings: “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid' (John 14:26-27).
This promise of personal peace is particularly relevant to us today given that we live in a time when 'all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men's hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people' (Doctrine and Covenants 88:91). As we strive to navigate through these last days, we will face many forms of opposition.
How will we respond to this opposition? What will we do when faced with situations that cause us to question God or His servants? How will we respond when adherence to our faith is treated as irrelevant or offensive? What will we do when we are faced with gospel-related questions that we cannot answer? How can we remain faithful while simultaneously enduring the physical, mental, and emotional anguish that so many of us face? Where do we turn when it appears we have nowhere else to turn? Why does God ask us to do things that seem beyond our ability to accomplish or comprehend? To navigate these questions requires much more than good feelings and a robust social network.
Remembering Jesus and keeping His commandments will allow us to find personal peace and gain a testimony of His goodness. Our knowledge of this goodness will grow as we seek to apply His teachings in our lives. Through our experiences, we will come to know that heeding His counsel will have a dramatic effect on our lives. We can find the faith necessary to overcome our most complex challenges through our own personal knowledge of Christ’s goodness.
Trials of Faith
The example of those who have endured difficult trials can help us find the strength to face ours. When Abraham was asked to offer up his son Isaac, I can only imagine how he must have felt. Being a father to four sons who are more important to me than anything this world can possibly offer, this is a trial I can barely fathom. However, Abraham was faithful and 'against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations' (Romans 4:18).
During a period of intense physical and mental suffering, Job asked: 'Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee ... And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity?' (Job 7:20-21). Through this period of intense suffering, Job remained faithful despite all his afflictions. Therefore, God 'blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning' (Job 42:12)
In the early days of the Restoration, one of the most significant challenges the Saints had to endure was the practice of plural marriage. For many Church members, this practice was a severe trial. As mentioned in Gospel Topics, 'it violated both cultural and legal norms, leading to persecution and revilement' (“Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Gospel Topics Essays, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
The fact that plural marriage was practiced in our early history is a stumbling block to some, even today. As mentioned in the November 8-14 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021: 'To make it through this trial, [the Saints] needed more than just favorable feelings about the restored gospel; they needed faith in God that went far deeper than any personal desires or biases. The commandment no longer stands today, but the faithful example of those who lived it still does. And that example inspires us when we are asked to make our own 'sacrifices in obedience' (Doctrine and Covenants 132:40).”
During His last night in mortality, after the Passover Supper, Jesus entered Gethsemane for the last time with His disciples. As Christ started to work out the Atonement on our behalf, He “began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy' (Mark 14:33). So great was His suffering that it caused Him to cry out, saying, 'Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done' (Luke 22:42). The answer to His request was not a removal of the cup but an angel to strengthen Him. Once Jesus knew the cup would not be removed and being in agony, 'he prayed more earnestly' (Luke 22:43-44)
A knowledge of God is not obtained by casual discipleship. To have the strength to move forward, we need a deep abiding faith in a loving Father in Heaven. This means we will often be required to 'walk by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Turn to Christ
To those who struggle with feelings of doubt and uncertainty, remember Jesus. Remember the comfort, guidance, grace, and blessings He has brought into your life in the past. If you have never felt that grace, make a commitment to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and you will experience His goodness. Once you have experienced it, make a commitment to never turn your back on Him regardless of the challenges you face or the opposition you encounter. When things were the darkest for Him, He did not turn His back on us
The goodness of Jesus is not a fairy tale; it is as real as anything I have ever experienced. Regardless of the circumstances we face in this life, whatever our losses, I truly believe as the prophet Isaiah (see Isaiah 64:4) has written and as is re-iterated by Paul, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him' (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Our response to the challenges we face will largely determine the course of our lives and have a significant impact on those around us. The example of the early Saints shows us that even our most severe trials can become stepping stones of personal growth that lead us to the peace and love of God that 'passeth all understanding' (Philippians 4:7).
It is my hope and my prayer that we may learn to have unshaken faith in Christ relying wholly upon His merits and His grace, for He 'is mighty to save' (2 Nephi 31:19)