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Have you ever found yourself in a moment with someone who is so hurt, so broken, so emotionally torn apart that there are no words strong enough to console them?
Such was my experience several years ago as I met with a beloved and beautiful daughter of God who was desperate to hear that she wasn’t forsaken. To protect her privacy, I will say only that she was an innocent victim of abuse and infidelity and was at that time fighting for custody of her children. The hopes she’d had for love and tenderness in her marriage were shattered. Just breathing hurt. Her confusion was palpable.
What could I possibly say to her? What comfort could I give? How could she ever feel beloved and wanted ever again?
As had been my experience in similar situations to this one, I was in a silent, parallel conversation with God as I listened to my friend pour out her heart to me. After several minutes of pleading, a single unexpected word came into my mind.
“Share what I taught you.”
I slowly reached for the scriptures nearby and opened to a verse I’d pondered just a few days before our meeting. I asked if I could share something with her. She nodded.
“Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.”
And then I started to talk. But the words I spoke were not mine.
“I don’t know why that word ‘betwixt’ was used instead of between, but here’s what you are supposed to understand. Jesus Christ is standing between you and all of it. He’s absorbing the ferocity and the viciousness and the cruelty. He’s always done that. He’ll never stop doing that. When you read those four words—“standing betwixt them and…”—the Savior wants you to know that you can replace ‘justice’ in that sentence with whatever pain or evil or brutality coming at you and know that He’s with you. That He is standing BETWEEN you and whatever may hurt you. In the most intimate and personal and customized way, He is encircling you in the arms of His love and will never, no matter what, ever let you go. Does this mean no pain for you? Of course not. What you are experiencing is unfair and wrong. But don’t let that pain smother the fact that you are not suffering alone.”
I stopped talking and looked into her tear-bright eyes, matched with my own tears.
We sat quietly and slowly inhaled the truth of what we had both just learned.
Another word came - Intercessor. And with it, another verse, one I had read and taught many times before, but never in the context now being shown to me.
“Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—“
Doctrine & Covenants 45:3
An image formed in my mind of her, this lovely and broken woman, standing before her Father in Heaven. And right next to her, His arms “unfailing ‘round her,” was Jesus, pleading her cause. I had always thought this passage had to do only with our Final Judgement. Not so. I was learning that this divine advocacy, this “intercession” as it were, is going on right now. The Savior is advocating for each of us to receive help and consolation in our moment of need. Angels are being sent. Spiritual comfort is being provided. Healing and strength and grace are radiating from Heavenly Parents and Their Most Beloved One to us, each of us, exactly when and precisely how that help is needed.
I’ve tried to imagine a metaphor that would help me better understand what this means. At first I pictured the Savior as some kind of superhero, like Iron Man, standing in front of me and deflecting all of the bullets/lasers/missiles being fired in my direction. But that seems both inaccurate and inadequate to describe what I believe what in fact happened when He atoned for us. In my limited understanding, it seems that Jesus internalized the individual experience of our sins, our pains, our sicknesses, and every other mortal infirmity. In a way we don’t understand, He metabolized all our hurts and heartaches within His sinless, perfect soul so that He might “succor his people according to [our] infirmities” (Alma 7:12.)
“The Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection give Him the power to deliver us...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.”
There is so much I don’t understand and so much I still have to learn about the Savior and His infinite, intimate Atonement. I wish I could say that after we learned about Jesus standing “betwixt” her and the difficult things she was suffering, things dramatically improved for this good sister. Based on what I know about her current situation, this wasn’t what happened. But what I do see is more hope in her eyes, more acting in faith with confidence that she is being led, and more joy in her Savior’s loving arms. She knows where her Help lies.
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