President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, assures us: “The gospel teaches us that relief from torment and guilt can be earned through repentance. Save for those few who defect to perdition … , there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness” (“The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, November 1995, 19).
Unrepented sin separates us from our loving Father in Heaven, leaving us feeling guilty and ashamed. Like physical pain, this “godly sorrow” (2 Cor. 7:10) signals that something is wrong, that we need to pull away from whatever is causing the pain and seek the healing help of the Savior’s Atonement.
President Packer explains: “When the prophet Alma was young, he spent such a time ‘racked,’ as he said, ‘with eternal torment, [his] soul … harrowed up to the greatest degree’ [Alma 36:12; emphasis added].
“He even thought, ‘Oh, … that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body’ [Alma 36:15; emphasis added].
“But his mind caught hold of a thought. When he nurtured the thought and acted upon it, the morning of forgiveness came. …
“The thought that rescued Alma, when he acted upon it, is this: Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ” (Ensign, November 1995, 19–20).
A priesthood leader was impressed by the “gospel glow” he saw in a sister he was interviewing. When he asked her what the secret of her success was, with moist eyes she replied simply, “Repentance.”
She explained she had married young—and pregnant. Sorrow for her sin was followed by confession to the Lord and to priesthood authorities and commitment to be obedient to the Lord’s commandments.
“It was hard, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” she explained. “But Heavenly Father blessed us to make something good out of something bad. The more we struggled to be faithful, the stronger Heavenly Father made us. And the stronger Heavenly Father made us, the easier it was to be faithful.” This woman, her husband, and their baby eventually entered the temple and were sealed as an eternal family.
This sister and her husband found forgiveness and peace in the Healer’s touch. “Now it just amazes me to think of how happy we are as a family,” she said. “The Lord could have given up on us. But he accepted our repentance, and … helped us make something wonderful out of our lives” (quoted in Joseph Walker, “Singing the Song of Redeeming Love,” Ensign, March 1993, 60).
Jeremiah once lamented, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?” (Jer. 8:22). For those who will partake, there is balm—the amazing gift of the Atonement. And the Physician pleads, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” (3 Ne. 9:13).