Good afternoon dear brothers and sisters. I bring to all of you today the blessings and love from our District President and his councilors. I am glad to be assigned here today to meet all of you since this is my very first time to attend a Saturday sacrament meeting.
The message that I was assigned to speak with you is entitled “Our Own Gethsemane.” I though this message is just appropriate since the holy week is coming in just a couple of weeks from now.
As the holy week approaches, we once again join the whole Christian world in commemorating the atonement and sacrifice of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And this event reminds me of one of my favorite hymns in the church which is entitled, “I Stand All Amazed.” The line that really strikes me most every time we sing it is the part that says, “I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine… oh it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me… oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me.”
When I think of our Savior’s love for us, I also think of the unconditional love that comes along with it. He came down to earth to become as human as we are in order to experience and feel the pain and suffering we too are experiencing in this life. He made himself no exception. He carried his own cross to Calvary. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he sweated with blood. He drank the bitter cup so we could drink the sweeter cup. He was beaten with iron and thorns. They spit on him, insult him, and made fun of him. Yet he remained silent. On the cross he prayed to Heavenly Father, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” It was the pure love of Christ that made the atonement possible for all of us.
How many of us right now are carrying our own cross to Calvary? How many people in the earth right now are going through much suffering? Yesterday, I was listening to the morning news on TV. A young distraught mother loaded her 3 little boys, ages 5, 7, and 10, in the car. Then when they reached the sea shore she turns her car and slowly drove straight into the waters. The 10 year old son sensed that something was wrong immediately opened the window, jump out of the car and hurriedly swims back to shore. Finding for the right words, he tried to call help for his family. But it was too late. A few minutes later, they found his mom and his 2 baby brothers drowned dead in the car.
This and many more sad stories are happening now as the world becomes tougher and tougher to live in. A challenge for a young single mother to find time between work and studies, in order to raise 3 young children. A challenge for young Filipino mothers to leave home for many years for the sake of her children’s future. A challenge for husbands to stay at home to raise the children while his wife goes to find a living. A challenge for a child growing up without a mother to hug and cry on when things go wrong.
Inflation, loss of job, caring for an elderly parent, raising wayward children, a sick child, loss of a husband or a love one, getting along with difficult people, adjusting with our employers, drugs and addiction. Each one of us having our own Gethsemane. Each one of us carrying our own cross to Calvary.
How would we handle this? What does Heavenly Father expect from us as we face these challenges? How did our Lord Jesus Christ handled his? Does Heavenly Father expect us to follow the examples of His son?
When the Lord was kneeling down upon the altar of the Garden of Gethsemane he submitted himself willfully to Heavenly Father, subject upon Heavenly Father’s will, and not his will be done. When he was beaten and crowned with thrones, he was silent. On his way to Calvary and on his dying hour on the cross, he forgives.
Indeed, we should make the Lord as our example whenever we are being wrapped up by challenges. We should look up to him for strength and courage. We should trust in him in his promises to us, that he will deliver us from evil, that he will deliver us from bondage and sin. His promise is sure.
So much as I can remember the most difficult challenge I had in my life was when my mother died. It was difficult for me for I was so young then and to have no mother on my side during my growing years was a tough challenge. I have been through a lot of frustrations and difficult decisions in life having nobody to confide with. My father has his own family now and I do not want my problems to be an extra burden to him. I remained silent, forced myself to believe in myself. I know that I can do it. I told to myself that whatever important decision I’ll make in my life I have to make sure that my mother and father will be proud of it.
I grew up believing that God is always on my side. Whatever happens he will always be there to answer my prayers. This is what my mother taught me when I was little, and I sincerely believed in it.
With every challenge and every answer to my prayers, I was able to strengthen my faith in Christ. Indeed he has drank the bitter cup in order for me to drink the sweeter cup.
This coming Lenten season, let us try to remember the role of the Savior in our lives. Let us try to remember his atoning sacrifice for all of us. Let us try to remember and follow his example. Through His atoning sacrifice, Christ broke the bonds of death. Just as He took up His body and came forth from the tomb, even so shall all of us enjoy a reunion of body and spirit in the day of our own resurrection.
From Christ we learn to be obedient, even when it is painful, as it was painful for Him in Gethsemane. We learn to serve others, even when it is inconvenient, as it certainly was “inconvenient” for Him on the cross of Golgotha. And we learn to trust in the love of God, even if we might feel God has forsaken us—for when we overcome through faith, these bitter and sorrowful moments in our lives can become like steps on a ladder, leading us into the heavenly presence of God.
All my hope is centered in Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer. He truly is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. “God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son”
I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, our savior and our redeemer, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.