Elder Kent F. Richards: The Atonement Covers All Pain
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As a surgeon, Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy has seen people cope with pain very differently. "Some turn away from God in anger, while others allow their suffering to bring them closer to God," he said in his Saturday morning address.
"Pain is a gauge of the healing process. It often teaches us patience. Perhaps that is why we use the term 'patient' in referring to the sick."
He noted that much of people's suffering is not necessarily their fault or may be a result of the actions of others. "Opposition is part of Heavenly Father's plan of happiness. We all encounter enough to bring us to an awareness of our Father's love and of our need for the Savior's help."
He added, "The Savior is not a silent observer. He Himself knows personally and infinitely the pain we face. … There is a physician. The Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all these conditions and purposes of mortality."
Elder Richards then spoke of another kind of pain. "[Spiritual pain] comes from our sinful actions and lack of repentance," he said. "For this pain, too, there is a cure that is universal and absolute. It is from the Father, through the Son, and it is for each of us who is willing to do all that is necessary to repent."
He recalled an experience when, as a patient and not as a physician, he lay in a hospital bed and pondered Alma 7:11-12. "I came to understand that during His mortal life Christ chose to experience pains and afflictions in order to understand us. … I felt the 'encircling arms of his love' that night. Tears watered my pillow in gratitude."
Later, as he was reading in Matthew, he came to understand that Christ "healed all that came to Him. None were turned away."
"All souls can be healed by His power. All pain can be soothed. In Him, we can 'find rest unto [our] souls.' Our mortal circumstances may not immediately change, but our pain, worry, suffering and fear can be swallowed up in His peace and healing balm."
Noting that children are often more naturally accepting of pain and suffering, he said, "In extremity, we can become as children in our hearts, humble ourselves and 'pray and work and wait' patiently for the healing of our bodies and our souls."