An elderly man was standing in line at the post office to buy stamps at the service counter. A young woman noticed that he walked with difficulty and offered to show him how to buy stamps from a machine to save time. The elderly gentleman said, “Thank you, but I prefer waiting. The machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.”
Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who cares about our troubles.
Pain, sorrow, and illness are experiences we all share—the moments of mishap, misery, and misfortune can add up to a sizable memory on our soul’s own internal hard drive.
When it comes to our physical well-being, we accept aging and illness as part of our mortal journey. We seek the counsel of professionals who understand the physical body. When we suffer from emotional distress or mental illness, we seek the help of experts who treat these kinds of ailments.
Just as we face physical and emotional trials in this mortality, we also face spiritual challenges. Most of us have experienced times in our lives when our testimony burns brightly. We also may have experienced times when our Heavenly Father seems distant. There are times when we treasure the things of the Spirit with all our hearts. There may also be times when they appear less precious or of diminished significance.
Today I wish to speak of spiritual wellness—how we can find healing from stagnation and walk a path of vibrant spiritual health.
Sometimes spiritual illness comes as a result of sin or emotional wounds. Sometimes spiritual breakdowns come so gradually that we can scarcely tell what is happening. Like layers of sedimentary rock, spiritual pain and grief can build over time, weighing upon our spirits until it is almost too heavy to bear. For example, this can happen when our responsibilities at work, home, and church become so overwhelming that we lose sight of the joy of the gospel. We might even feel as though we have no more to give or that living the commandments of God is beyond our strength.
But just because spiritual trials are real does not mean that they are incurable.
We can heal spiritually.
Even the deepest spiritual wounds—yes, even those that may appear to be incurable—can be healed.
My dear friends, the healing power of Jesus Christ is not absent in our day.
The Savior’s healing touch can transform lives in our day just as it did in His. If we will but have faith, He can take our hands, fill our souls with heavenly light and healing, and speak to us the blessed words, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”1
Whatever causes our spiritual ailments, they all have one thing in common: the absence of divine light.
Darkness reduces our ability to see clearly. It dims our vision of that which was at one time plain and clear. When we are in darkness, we are more likely to make poor choices because we cannot see dangers in our path. When we are in darkness, we are more likely to lose hope because we cannot see the peace and joy that await us if we just keep pressing forward.
Light, on the other hand, allows us to see things as they really are. It allows us to discern between truth and error, between the vital and the trivial. When we are in the light, we can make righteous choices based on true principles. When we are in the light, we have “a perfect brightness of hope”2 because we can see our mortal trials from an eternal perspective.
We will find spiritual healing as we step away from the shadows of the world and into the everlasting Light of Christ.
The more we understand and apply the doctrinal concept of light, the more we can guard against spiritual sicknesses that afflict or trouble us on every side and hand, and the better we can serve as energetic, courageous, caring, and humble bearers of the holy priesthood—true servants and disciples of our beloved and eternal King.
Jesus Christ said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in [the] darkness, but shall have the light of life.”3
What does this mean?
Simply this: He who humbly follows Jesus Christ will experience and share in His light. And that light will grow until it eventually dispels even the most profound darkness.
It means that there is a power, a strong influence, that emanates from the Savior. It proceeds “forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.”4 Because this power enlightens, uplifts, and illuminates our lives, the scriptures often call it light, but it is also referred to as spirit and truth.
This profound insight—that light is spirit, which is truth, and that this light shines upon every soul who comes into the world—is as important as it is hopeful. The Light of Christ enlightens and saturates the souls of all who hearken to the voice of the Spirit.6
The Light of Christ fills the universe.
It fills the earth.
And it can fill every heart.
“God is no respecter of persons.”7 His light is available to all—great or small, rich or poor, privileged or disadvantaged.
If you open your mind and heart to receive the Light of Christ and humbly follow the Savior, you will receive more light. Line upon line, here a little and there a little, you will gather more light and truth into your souls until darkness has been banished from your life.8
God will open your eyes.
God will give you a new heart.
God’s love, light, and truth will cause dormant things to spring to life, and you will be reborn into a newness of life in Christ Jesus.9
The Lord has promised, “If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.”10
This is the ultimate remedy for spiritual sickness. Darkness vanishes in the presence of light.
However, God will not force us to embrace His light.
If we become comfortable with darkness, it is unlikely that our hearts will change.
For change to take place, we need to actively let the light in.
During my flights as an airline captain across our planet earth, I was always fascinated by the beauty and perfection of God’s creation. I found especially captivating the relationship between the earth and the sun. I consider it a profound object lesson of how darkness and light exist.
As we all know, within every 24 hours night turns to day and day turns to night.
So, then, what is night?
Night is nothing more than a shadow.
Even in the darkest of nights, the sun does not cease to radiate its light. It continues to shine as bright as ever. But half of the earth is in darkness.
The absence of light causes darkness.
When the darkness of night falls, we do not despair and worry that the sun is extinguished. We do not postulate that the sun is not there or is dead. We understand that we are in a shadow, that the earth will continue to rotate, and that eventually the rays of the sun will reach us once again.
Darkness is not an indication that there is no light. Most often, it simply means we’re not in the right place to receive the light. During the recent solar eclipse, many made great efforts to get into the narrow band of a shadow created by the moon in the middle of a bright sunny day.
In a very similar way, spiritual light continually shines upon all of God’s creation. Satan will make every effort to create a shadow or get us into a shadow of our own making. He will coerce us to create our own eclipse; he will push us into the darkness of his cavern.
Spiritual darkness can draw a veil of forgetfulness around even those who once walked in the light and rejoiced in the Lord. Nevertheless, even in moments of greatest darkness, God hears our humble petitions, as we pray, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”11
In the days of Alma there were many who struggled to accept spiritual things, and “because of their unbelief,” God’s light and truth could not enter their souls “and their hearts were hardened.”12
Brethren, it is up to us to be in the right place to see the divine light and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even when night has fallen and the world seems dark, we can choose to walk in Christ’s light, keep His commandments, and courageously testify of His reality and His greatness.
As a bearer of God’s priesthood and as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are a bearer of light. Keep doing the things that will nurture His divine light. “Hold up your light”13 and “let [it] shine before men”—not so that they will see and admire you, but “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”14
My dear brothers, you are instruments in the hands of the Lord with the purpose of bringing light and healing to the souls of Heavenly Father’s children. Perhaps you do not feel qualified to heal those who are spiritually ill—certainly not any more than a post office employee is qualified to help with arthritis. Maybe you face spiritual challenges of your own. Nevertheless, the Lord has called you. He has given you authority and responsibility to reach out to those in need. He has endowed you with His sacred priesthood power to bring light into the darkness and uplift and bless God’s children. God has restored His Church and His precious gospel, “which healeth the wounded soul.”15 He has prepared the path to spiritual wellness, to find healing from stagnation and move toward vibrant spiritual health.
Every time you turn your hearts to God in humble prayer, you experience His light. Every time you seek His word and will in the scriptures, the light grows in brightness. Every time you notice someone in need and sacrifice your own comfort to reach out in love, the light expands and swells. Every time you reject temptation and choose purity, every time you seek or extend forgiveness, every time you courageously testify of truth, the light chases away darkness and attracts others who are also seeking light and truth.
Think about your own personal experiences, moments of service to God and fellowmen when divine light has shined in your life—in the holy temple, at the sacrament table, in a quiet moment of prayerful pondering, in your family gatherings, or during an act of priesthood service. Share those moments with family, friends, and especially with our youth, who are seeking light. They need to hear from you that with this light come hope and healing, even in a world full of darkness.
Christ’s light brings hope, happiness, and healing of any spiritual wound or ailment.16 Those who experience this refining influence become instruments in the hands of the Light of the World to give light to others.17 They will feel what King Lamoni felt: “This light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and … the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul.”18
My dear brethren, my dear friends, it is our quest to seek the Lord until His light of everlasting life burns brightly within us and our testimony becomes confident and strong even in the midst of darkness.
It is my prayer and blessing that you will succeed in fulfilling your destiny as priesthood holders of Almighty God and always be joyful bearers of His heavenly light. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, our Master, amen.