Viewpoint: Those Who Feel Lost Spiritually Can Be Found

  • 14 February 2015

During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ taught parables of things lost and things found—the 15th chapter of Luke alone features the parables of the lost sheep, the piece of silver, and the prodigal son.

Article Highlights

  • Those who are feeling spiritually lost can find solace in the fact that they can be found again through the Savior’s teachings and Atonement.

“[Jesus] wanted us to know that none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings.” —Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve

A broken engagement and a sudden financial roadblock threatening education plans—Richard found these two unexpected life frustrations staring him in the face, adding to the challenges of daily life for a single college student. It seemed to be too much, and he felt himself trapped, buried, drowning, suffocating.

“The past couple of weeks have been some of the most difficult days of my life,” he confided. “I have honestly felt like the Lord had forgotten me and that my faith was beginning to fail.”

Struggling with feeling lost spiritually, Richard turned to the bishop of his young single adult ward for counseling and a priesthood blessing. In the blessing, Richard was told: “Remember your mission, and fight for the testimony you had as a missionary. Your Father in Heaven knows you.”

After the evening visit with the bishop, Richard went to a local gym to exercise. Returning home and walking on the snow-encrusted ground, he noticed he almost stepped on something—something partially obscured, golden and glimmering as it reflected nearby lights in the night. Rather than kick it away like he would normally have done, he knelt, reached down, and picked up the object.

As he flipped it over, he immediately recognized it as a small commemorative pin—a lapel-type pin bearing the name and logo of his own mission, where he began his two-year service conversing in a new language. Richard had received an identical pin as a newly arriving missionary, a pin that had been created, ordered, and distributed by his mission president. But this one he had found wasn’t his pin; his own mission pin was safe and sound back in his apartment.

Holding the pin, Richard felt a touching confirmation of the blessing he received just hours before. And he humbly wanted to both acknowledge that confirmation as well as share words of comfort and encouragement with others who might be bearing similar burdens.

“The Lord knows you, even in your darkest and most treacherous times,” he wrote on a social media site, concluding by quoting a line from a favorite Primary song: “Speak, he is listening” (“A Child’s Prayer,” Children’s Songbook, 12–13).

For Richard, it was a “lost and found” moment—he felt as though he had veered off from his path of plans and hopes. He felt distanced from divine care. In his efforts of searching and returning, he turned to one who could help him find himself and his way—one with inspired counsel and a priesthood blessing.

He had found himself lost—only to find himself again.

Ironically, something “lost” served as the catalyst of Richard’s moment of rediscovering himself and the strengths of his mission foundation. That partially obscured mission pin he spotted that night was itself lost and missing, having been dropped accidentally by its owner, likely a fellow returned missionary who had served in the same mission and about the same time as had Richard.

Sometimes those feeling lost and struggling can be a source of strength and inspiration to others. Many times, individuals go to visit and reach out to others they know are facing challenges—perhaps a terminal illness, a family crisis, or a personal uncertainty. And often those people return saying, “I went to offer comfort and strength, but I feel like I have been the one most comforted and strengthened. I went to uplift, and yet I’m the one uplifted.”

In a message penned while serving as a counselor in the First Presidency, President Gordon B. Hinckley recalled a sign on the wall of a shoe repair shop he often patronized, which read: “I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”

He added: “My plea is—if we want joy in our hearts, if we want the Spirit of the Lord in our lives, let us forget ourselves and reach out. Let us put in the background our own personal, selfish interests and reach out in service to others” (“Whosoever Will Save His Life,” Ensign, Aug. 1982).

During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ taught parables of things lost and things found—the 15th chapter of Luke alone features the parables of the lost sheep, the piece of silver, and the prodigal son.

“Why did Jesus teach these parables?” asked Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his April 2012 general conference remarks. “He wanted us to know that none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings.”

The resulting balm brought by helping others in our times of need is portrayed in the fifth verse of the hymn “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (Hymns, no. 29).

Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,

I found him by the highway side.

I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,

Revived his spirit, and supplied

Wine, oil, refreshment—he was healed.

I had myself a wound concealed

But from that hour forgot the smart,

And peace bound up my broken heart.

When feeling lost, turn outward to others—rather than inward to yourself—and seek for others facing equal or greater challenges. If you’re having a bad day, go out and find someone who is having a worse day and help that person. Your struggles will soon seem less overwhelming and less burdensome.