We should be humbled as we think of the Savior's saving Grace to help us endure the day-to-day trials that we face and of His great and enabling power that gives us treasures of great knowledge as we experience our own Runtotomorrow.Â Blessings, Gar
We Can Find Strength in Christ
These notes were taken from a talk given by Michael Barnes of BYU July 1, 2008, I was able to learn more about the affects of the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ upon all of Godâs children.Â You can read more about his talk by going to the BYU website. This speech is available as part of the following: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1782
The following text of this Blog is taken from his talk and is slightly edited as noted.
âAs I [Michael Barnes] have studied the scriptures and learned about strengths and weaknesses, I have noticed a pattern that appears repeatedly. From a review a scriptural pattern from the words of Moroni in Ether 12:27 we read.
[In Ether 12:23 and 27]:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
From this verse, Iâd like to share the five Aâs of finding strength in Christ. As we review the verse, I invite you to consider how you can apply these Aâs to your own circumstances and to your own weaknesses. Here is the pattern for finding strength in Christ:
1. Accept Christâs invitation to come to Him.
2. Ascertain our God-given weaknesses.
3. Appreciate weaknesses as gifts to help us be humble.
4. Allow Christâs grace to strengthen and enable us.
5. Â âAcknowledge â, when I am weak, then am I strong.â
is Moroniâs response to a fear that his words will be seen as weak and awkward or that we may criticize them when we read them in the latter days: âThe Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing.â
To this, the Lord reassures the prophet [Moroni], âMy grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness.â
[What are the steps for the meek to finding strength in the Grace of Christ?]
1. Accept Christâs Invitation to Come to Him
The first step in finding strength in Christ is to accept Christâs invitation to come to Him. In Ether 12:27 the Lord said that âif men come unto [Him]â He will bless them. The Lord always provides an invitation to us when He wants to bless us. He loves us unconditionally and wants us to choose to come to Him. Coming unto Jesus is the source of being happy and is the test of our existence. [Therefore], when we choose to come to Him, He will give us what we need.
2. Ascertain Our God-Given Weaknesses
Once we accept Christâs invitation to come to Him, we are ready to ascertain our God-given weaknesses. Remember, in Ether 12:27 the Lord said, âI will show unto them their weakness.â With the Lordâs help, we must recognize and understand our weakness. Weakness is defined as âthe condition of being mortal and lacking ability, strength, or skill.â Weaknesses exist because we live in an imperfect state as ânaturalââor mortalâmen and women. Examples of weakness include being disorganized or short-tempered; having a tendency toward a personality challenge; having a defect or failing in athletics, music, public speaking, or writing; or having challenges with physical or financial circumstances. However, these weaknesses need not be seen as liabilities. In reality, these and other weaknesses can be assets because of what they may do for us.
Now, let me make a clarification here. There is a difference between weakness and sin. Sin is a conscious act that violates Godâs law, and sinners often desire to hide or mask their sins from others. Weaknesses are not choices but are hallowed gifts from God, and thus they are not sins. God-given weaknesses do not require repentance, since they are gifts to help us humbly rely on God and love and assist others. Fortunately, the Atonement is always available for you and me when we depend upon Him because of our sins and weaknesses. Thus, our weaknesses become another important way for us to rely upon the Lordâs Atonement throughout our lives.
I love the Prophet Joseph Smith. I honor him for his example and his dedication to the Lord and to the Restoration of the gospel. I find great comfort in knowing that even this incredible prophet struggled through his weaknesses. Three years following the young prophetâs vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, Joseph was humbled by the persecutions he had been experiencing. In fact, he said, âIÂ often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections.â So, isnât it wonderful that none of us are exempt from weaknesses? They truly are gifts from God.
3. Appreciate Weaknesses as Gifts to Help UsÂ Be Humble
Once we accept Christâs invitation to come to Him and ascertain our God-given weaknesses, the third step in finding strength in Christ is learning to appreciate our weaknesses as gifts to help us be humble. In verse 27 of Ether 12, the Lord said, âI give unto men weakness that they may be humble.â We are each blessed by Heavenly Father with gifts of strength and gifts of weakness. Each type of gift is a prized possession. Sometimes we may want only the kinds of gifts that are recognized as strengths. But a life of all strengths would actually be quite dull and would not allow us to grow in the ways the Lord desires.
It is clear from the scriptures that God gives men weaknesses. Christ knows our weaknesses, and He promises: âHe that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.â However, some may mistakenly believe that if we follow the Lord then everything will become easier and less problematic. Living the gospel does not ensure that we will not experience any pain or challenges, but it does provide an assurance when challenges do come. We may wonder why a loving Heavenly Father wants us to see our weaknesses. Heavenly Father wants to bless us and help us grow. That is the point of mortality. As we see and recognize our weaknesses, we are humbled, and we turn to the Lord for help.
âI [Michael Barnes] am reminded of a humorous story told by Sheri L. Dew. She told of a mother of eight children who one afternoon was briefly frazzled with weakness as she worked with her young children. She called her husband for comfort at that difficult moment.
With humor in her voice, she said to her husband, âRemind me, why did we have eight children?â
To this, he replied, âBecause the Lord knew we could have handled seven just fine.â
This story may relate to our weaknessesâthe Lord gives us weaknesses plus sometimes even a little bit more so that we can grow and stretch and become who He wants us to become.
We can grumble about our weaknesses and try to ignore them, or we can embrace the challenges to be stretched and to grow. Weaknesses are all about our humility, not about our liabilities. When we actively approach our weaknesses in humility and with grace, our mortal journey will be rewarding, with indescribable glimpses of eternal joy. The key is to be humble, to seek the Lord for help, and to glory in the grace of Jesus Christ!
4. Allow Christâs Grace to Strengthen and Enable Us
Now, letâs once more read Moroniâs counsel in verse 27 in Ether 12:
If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me.
If we are willing to humble ourselves, the Lord promises, âMy grace is sufficient.â The key phrase is âmy grace is sufficient.â In the Bible Dictionary, grace is defined as âan enabling powerâ and a âdivine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.â The connection between humility and grace is critical, because when there is ââsufficient humilityâ in us, Christ pours down sufficient grace [to compensate for what we lack]. That grace purges, cleanses, heals, and strengthens.â
When Elder David A. Bednar was newly sustained as an apostle, he declared that he was among the weakest of the world. Yet he shared the significance of the Lordâs grace:
The enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity.
5. Acknowledge That âWhen I Am Weak, Then Am I Strongâ
The final and fifth step to finding strength in Christ is to acknowledge, âwhen I am weak, then am I strong.â The Lord reminded us in Ether 12, âFor if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.â And, just a few verses later, the Lord promised Moroni, âBecause thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.â
Wow! This is a hopeful and inspiring message! This refining and polishing process is among the most sacred experiences we can hope [to receive]. This process is not about being weak or infirm because of weakness. It is about being made strong through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Please remember that humility and grace qualify us for the Atonement. The Prophet Joseph Smithâs experience in Liberty Jail illustrates how profound humility leads to profound grace and eternal blessings. For four months, the Prophet and several others unjustly experienced severe struggles in the miserable circumstances of the jail. But after Josephâs heartfelt pleading, the Savior comforted him often and reassured him with these words: âKnow thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.â Â Thus, the Lord focused on blessing each prisoner in his heart and soulânot changing his or her physical circumstances until several weeks later.
The role of the Atonement is to transform us, not our weaknesses. We may feel imprisoned at times by our weakness, trial, sin, or pain, but the way the Atonement helps us is by changing usânot necessarily by taking away weaknesses, trials, sin, or pain. The Lordâs goal is to strengthen, build, and develop our capacity through the Atonementâa process we may call perfection.
We learn and grow from our experiences, our weaknesses, and our trials. While we can overcome some weaknesses, most stay with us for many years or throughout mortality. Weaknesses that linger can provide defining moments for us in becoming the men and women God has sent us here to become. Additionally, the Atonement is available to pay for the effect of our weaknesses upon others. Weaknesses manifest between couples or families are probably the most important for us to deal with. That said, it is also important for each of us to be tolerant of othersâ weaknesses. Thus, in Heavenly Fatherâs glorious plan, our weaknesses and challenges can keep us holding fast to the Lord; feeling supported by the Lord, experiencing indescribable joy, peace, and love from the Lord.
âNow, let me [Michael Barnes] share one of my favorite scriptures pertaining to weaknesses, found in 2 Corinthians 12:7â10. In his letters to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul shared a personal way to see a weakness that was given toÂ him by Heavenly Father.
In verse 7, he provided a descriptive representation of his weakness:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.
In his case, Paul knew that he had received this gift of weakness so that he could be humble. But, because of his metaphor of a thorn, it does not appear that he wanted this weakness to stick around.
In verse 8, we learn his response to his unwanted gift. As we review this verse, think of its similarity to what Moroni taught in Ether 12. Paul said:
For this thing, I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
I take great comfort in knowing that Paulâs original feeling was to ask God to help him get rid of this weaknessâeven to the point of asking Heavenly Father three times to take it away. However, after three pleadings to Heavenly Father, Paul accepted the Lordâs answer. In verse 9 we read:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
[Now my favorite part:] Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Please notice the marvelous transformation that Paul experienced as he humbly approached Heavenly Father with his weakness. Because of the peace, love, comfort, and strength granted him through the Atonement of Christ, he learned to welcome his weaknesses.
In verse 10, we then learn the following redeeming promise:
Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities . . . : forÂ when I am weak, then am I strong.
Paulâs powerful example illustrates the wonder and majesty of the Lord in helping each of us become strong through our weaknesses.
In conclusion, I testify that once you and I come to know our God-given weaknesses, we will begin to see the marvelous plan of the Lord and increasingly view the Atonement in a new and wonderful way. The Atonement is the source of the strength we need. This divine power will become active as we rely on the Savior through humility and grace. Then we can testify, as the Apostle Paul declared, âI take pleasure in infirmities . . . : for when I am weak, then am I strong.â
"I encourage you to start today. Accept Christâs invitation to come to Him and begin your own journey and experience of seeing the Atonementâs influence on your weaknesses. I encourage each of us to pay attention to the feelings and impressions we have received. If you have not already done so, may I encourage you to write down those spiritual impressions and make a determination to follow the promptings you have received. Paying attention to those impressions is more important than the words you have heard.â
Brother Barnes echoes my testimony and I want to share his testimony as my own in conclusion.Â
âI testify that the Lord is ready now to be a growing part of our lives. He seeks to do this by helping us overcome sin. He seeks to provide comfort and assistance when we face trials, struggles, or challenges. In addition, as we have considered today, He seeks to be part of our lives by helping us become strong through our weaknesses."
"I am humbled and profoundly grateful for the grace and love that I have felt when I have turned to the Lord with these needs. With all my heart, I know He lives and has the capacity to lead us back to our Heavenly Father. We can become perfect in Christ and thus be filled with the Lordâs blessings of joy, peace, and love. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.â