I’m quick to admit that there are a lot of things I don’t understand. I am typing this on a laptop computer, and I know precious little about how the hardware and software work. I know a few rudimentary concepts, like binary code and such, but I’m pretty clueless when you get into the guts of it.
Same goes for Dark Matter, dreams, why we sleep, buying pre-ripped jeans and all sorts of things. I don’t understand them, but I don’t feel bad, because scientists don’t understand them either. Science can’t explain gravity and neither can I, but we can all agree on one thing: It is real, and it works. Every time I drop something, or fall onto my bed at the end of the day I am reminded that gravity is real, and it works.
Today is Easter, the day in which we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. He broke the bonds of death and literally came back to life – forever.
I have no idea how that actually happened. And immortality? Science hasn’t figured that out either.
We also turn our thoughts to Christ’s atonement during Easter. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ took upon Himself the pain and suffering for every man and woman who ever has, or ever will live on this earth, as well as others which we don’t know about.
So many questions.
How did he do that? How did He get the power to overcome death? How as He able to take on those burdens? Where did they come from? How was the pain quantified? How were the sins quantified when they hadn’t happened yet? How much of His suffering was because of me? And the questions keep going, and going…
I don’t know the answer to any of them, and it isn’t from lack of study, or spending time pondering. After many years thinking deep thoughts and trying to understand it, I have come to a conclusion:
When it comes to understanding the Atonement of Christ, I’m just ignorant.
I’m sure some people think they have all the answers, and, sure, they can think that…
I don’t like being ignorant. It bugs me. But when it comes to not understanding the Atonement of Christ. I’m in good company. President Russell M. Nelson said:
“Christ’s Atonement is infinite—without an end. It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope—it was to be done once for all.30 And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him. It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension.“ (link)
So, it isn’t just me. According to President Nelson, we can’t quantify it, because it is ‘beyond any human scale.” We can’t understand or explain it because it is beyond our ‘mortal comprehension.'”
Why aren’t we given the answers to such important questions? Probably because we wouldn’t be able to understand that which we cannot comprehend.
I’m okay with that. My ignorance doesn’t bother me nearly as much when I am told by a prophet that my ignorance is completely normal. I don’t need to speculate or try to figure out what I can’t even comprehend. (That said, there is a LOT of speculation out there – ignore it. They re just making stuff up.)
Does this mean I don’t believe that which I can’t comprehend? Just the opposite. I need to believe it through faith, and faith is enough. Alma taught, “And now as I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32:21)
So much of the Savior’s Resurrection and Atonement are beyond my comprehension. I know the “Whys,” but not the “Hows.” There is no “perfect knowledge” for me.
Something as dependable and familiar as gravity is also beyond my comprehension- but I know that it is real, and that it works. I feel it work, and I’ve seen it work my entire life.
That is how I feel about the miracle of the Atonement of Christ. I don’t know how it works – it is beyond my comprehension – but I know that it is real, and that it works. I feel it work, and I’ve seen it work my entire life.
I have felt the power of Christ’s Atonement in my life in large ways and small ways. I have felt its power when I needed hope, when I needed cleansed. It is a presence in my life as real as gravity. I have felt the mercy of the Lord through the power of His Atonement as it has shaped me when I needed to change, lifted me when I struggled, and cleansed me when impure. And it still does.
It is a constant.
Beyond the personal impact that Christ’s Atonement has had in my life, I had treasured blessing to see its power in the lives of others. I had the opportunity to serve as a Bishop a few years back, and I can make this declarative statement:
I have witnessed the impact of the Savior’s Atonement as it lifted, healed, cleansed and changed the lives of scores of those in need of hope, forgiveness and purity. I witnessed so many miracles wrought by the Atonement that I could never deny its reality.
During my tenure I came to the conclusion that the single most important thing I could do, as I counseled with struggling members of my ward, was to help them find access the Atonement of Christ. That’s it. And it worked – every single time a humble soul sought His mercy.
I can’t comprehend how the Atonement works, but I can witness that it does.
As we celebrate Easter, rather than focus on the incomprehensible and mire ourselves with unanswerable questions, let’s focus on the gift that the Atonement is real, and it works – every time it’s tried. It is a constant. It is THE constant.
Our Savior’s love overcomes all – even our own ignorance.
Have a joyous Easter.