June 20, 2011

Christlike Attributes: Experience

As I have thought about the last week of the Savior's life over the past few month, I have thought of the powerful message that the Lord "chose to experience pains and afflictions in order to understand us." [1] "He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation, but He chose to learn by His own personal experience." [2]

The fact that Jesus chose to know suffering is remarkably powerful.

My mind turns back to my own experience when I sat in the Church of All Nations, located in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. The Church is a beautiful chapel designed to feel like a garden. Trees are painted on some of the walls, and stars cover the ceiling. The room is dark and purposely so. As I sat all on my own, my mind turned to the many things that I had done, and the pain that I had caused the Savior. Yet, just as my mind filled with this pain, it was then replaced with a peace and power beyond description.

I can't help but think that one of the reasons His sacrifice has the power it does, is because he chose to experience. As I thought of this, it made me realize that this attribute of choice brought Him great power. Through His experience, He gained insight into our lives. Insight that not only made Him understand us, but most importantly for me, made Him more compassionate and forgiving. I wonder if part of the refinement that made Him who is, was the fact that He experienced so much pain. Had He never suffered I wonder if He would be the compassionate Savior I know Him as. And perhaps even more is because He chose to suffer, He is all the more compassionate.

This Christlike attribute is quite simple. Because Jesus chose to experience our pains, He likewise chooses to be understanding. He never uses His suffering to make Himself greater than us (though He is), He only uses His suffering to make us greater.

Why is this important to us? Because as we learn to suffer with those around us, we too have two choices to choose from. We can choose to make our similar suffering something that makes us better than others (pride), or we can choose to allow this suffering to help us make someone greater than they are. We can, like the Master, choose to see the greatness of trials and the refining power they have in making others great. We can see the true potential of a soul behind the sorrow and sadness.

How grateful I am that the Savior chose to experience my pain, and that He chose to then use this understanding to better understand me, and to lift by burdens, that my burden might be light. And most important, that He then choose to use His greater suffering, to make me greater!

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