Elder Winegar, The Bitter Cup

Thursday, June 1, 2023

 How're you, my friends?

I often feel as if I am a broken record. There is not much I can say that would be new or exciting or that I haven't said before. I've been here for such a long time that things that used to seem thrilling or unusual have almost become expected and natural. New companions and new areas seem to blend together into one sprawling tapestry of experience. And I can feel the yarn growing sparse as the story nears completion. As my two years are almost up, grief fills my heart and I wish I could serve two more! But, I am calm knowing I will look upon the beauty of these two years with joy and gratitude for all eternity. 

So, yes, I do have a new companion. He is, to use Nephi's words, "a man large in stature" (1 Nephi 4:31). But such great size comes with a price; our diet consists of an endless stream of protein amounting to a caloric nightmare. All in the name of gains I suppose…

As usual I am meeting droves of incredible people. Two of my friends, both recovering addicts who want to wash away their pasts' and start afresh, are preparing themselves to be baptized. They have both tread long and thorny paths, but it has allowed their hearts to be humbled or softened sufficiently to heed the counsel of their creator. It is one of the greatest joys of my life to meet individuals such as these, who are so thoroughly dedicated to changing their lives and modeling them after their Exemplar, Jesus Christ.

I have spent much of my time as of late attempting to look unto Jesus Christ in every thought, to always remember Him (D&C 6:36; 20:77-79). This has caused me to reflect more often and more deeply, "upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world" (D&C 138:2). 

I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was the single most important event in the history of mankind, for without it the progression of mankind would be eternally thwarted and our state ever miserable. Conversely, because of it our growth becomes possible and our potential infinite.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ comprised His suffering in Gethsemane, His death on the cross, and concluded with His triumphal Resurrection from the tomb. Nothing else has greater consequence for and effect upon every single human life.

Beginning in the garden, a stone's cast from His disciples, the Redeemer began His atoning work. Through the supreme power of His Eternal Father, Jesus Christ was permitted to suffer, "the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam," including, "temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people" (2 Ne. 9:21; Msh. 3:7). 

Thus, we see that the Savior not only endured all of the individual physical, emotional, and mental pains that each of us would suffer, but He also endured the crushing burden of guilt that we feel when we make mistakes. Christ took the agony of those mistakes upon Himself so that we wouldn't have to endure it ourselves. He has said, "For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent" (D&C 19:16). As we repent, we allow Christ to satisfy the demands of justice on our behalf and suffer the spiritual consequences of our mistakes for us. (Alma 34:15-16). In doing so, He turns our guilt to peace and our sorrow to joy!

In perfect contrast to the paramount darkness of Gethsemane is the ultimate glory of His Resurrection, or His victory over the grave! Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead with a glorified and perfected body, we too have the blessed assurance that even though, "our flesh must waste away and die…in our bodies we shall see God" (2 Ne. 9:4). We see that through His suffering Christ, "descended below all things" and through His Resurrection He once again, "ascended up on high…that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth" (D&C 88:6). Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ endured all things and thus became in and through all things. So when He invites us to, "know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," He's really inviting us to know Him so He can set us free.

When you consider that Jesus Christ literally freed us from the bands of death, His ability and power to help us overcome the multitude of mortal challenges becomes very realistic. Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ has subdued every enemy that we as God's children could ever face in our lives. Whether we face the enemies of temptation and addiction, or depression, despair, and discouragement, or anxiety, or fear, or oppression, or sickness, or suffering of any kind, it would do us well to remember that those enemies have already been defeated once and with Christ's help they can be defeated again (1 Cor. 15:20-28).

I bear you my heartfelt testimony that Jesus Christ drank the bitter cup, or completed His Atonement, because He loves us. He wants us to be "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37). He wants us to grow and to have peace and joy, even in our heartaches. He wants us to overcome all things so that one day, "when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure'' (Moroni 7:48).

His love is real. His Atonement is real. His power is real. And He wants you to use it. So please, don't delay. Come unto Christ.

All my love,

Elder Winegar


Payphone—Maroon 5

Broken Halos—Chris Stapleton

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