Written by: Mickayeen Farner
There are two things that make me cry like a baby every time I watch or listen to them. The first is an episode from our favorite TV series that I won’t go into detail about, but the second is the epilogue of Les Misérables. The musical depicts the stories of several people, one of them being Jean Valjean, a man fallen to despair and imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his ailing nephew. Running from the law, Valjean makes a life for himself as a dedicated servant of God but he never manages to escape the sins and pains of his past. In the final scene, Jean Valjean dies and is taken to Heaven by the priest who first turned him to Christ. It conveys perfectly the concept of redemption, especially the redemption we receive through God after death.
I get so emotional every time I think of it. Like Valjean, I have done many things in my life that should have distanced me far away from God, and it would have been reasonable to the laws of man for Him to just sentence me to an eternity of torment. I should have been a miserable one too. But God hasn’t cast me off, and all I can do is ask, like Enos, “Lord, how is it done?”(Enos 1:7).
The Lord’s answer is “Because of thy faith in Christ…thy faith hath made thee whole.” Wow. Isn’t that something? Through our faith in Christ, we are saved or redeemed from all the ways we have transgressed. That subject has been the topic of numerous talks and discourses which go deep into the doctrine of the Atonement. That’s not the point of this little blog entry. My point is to say that I am extremely grateful Christ has given me and all of us new life through His Atonement if we have and exercise faith in Him.
That, by itself, should be the cause of much thanksgiving and joy. I’m sure all of us could come up with a list of things to be grateful for if we took the time to sit down and ponder all our blessings. Here are a few things from my list.
There is a picture I saw while walking through one of the buildings on campus. It was a picture of a mother being given a baby by the hand of God. I testify that having a child is the closest thing to Godhood we will ever get to experience on this earth. It has been an extreme joy and great blessing to have the title of ‘father’ to one of the most precious spirits I have ever met. Another is my beautiful wife. A lot of you know her and then wonder how she got stuck with me. Trust me, I wonder that myself. She is brilliant and the most caring, smart and most beautiful human I have ever met, and I’m well… yeah… you know what I’m getting at. I don’t deserve her at all. I don’t deserve my daughter, and I frankly don’t deserve any of the blessings because as, King Benjamin said, “if ye should serve him with your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (Mosiah 2:21). And still God has blessed me. It’s amazing.
I could go on for a long time about the blessings I have received compared to the punishments I have deserved. I wouldn’t do it to be like a Zoramite or a Pharisee and claim to be better than anyone. I do it to give all credit and glory to God. I echo Ammon’s words in Alma 26: “I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God…Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast” (Alma 26:11,36). And I add that I am glad, as I’m sure Valjean was, that we are promised in the scriptures that if we are faithful we will inherit, not earn, the kingdom of heaven because “since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins” (Alma 22:14).
Regardless of the trials and adverse circumstances we may find ourselves in, I hope that we all will seek to focus on the many blessings we have been gifted through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Therein lies true and everlasting joy and eternal redemption.