One of the most pivotal experiences in the life of Jesus Christ occurred in the final moments of his mortal life. At the apex of his suffering on the cross, he cried out to his Heavenly Father: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Through gospel teachings, we learn of the absolute necessity of this moment. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said, “It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.”
Just as Christ had to know what it was like to be forsaken for the Atonement to be fully realized, we too will face moments in the refiner’s fire. We may experience times when to us it seems heaven is silent, promises go unfulfilled or divine aid does not come.
If this is something you have faced, you are aware of the agony, confusion, and exhaustion that can accompany such times. It may seem impossible to remain faithful and true. However, there are things that can help us move forward with faith and trust in God.
Make a Choice
It is human nature to want to feel assured. It seems logical that we make choices and commitments only after we have received confirmation or guidance. Heavenly Father, however, asks us to take steps in the dark.
We have a lot of praise for those in the Church who seem to have unwavering faith as they make decisions. We need to remember the righteous decisions made in spite of a lack of hope or faith are just as good, just as honorable. In fact, this means you have more faith than you realize! It is an act of faith to live like you do when you feel you have none.
So make the choice. Make the choice that no matter what you may or may not feel, you will do your best to keep your covenants, to finish the task. Christ could have turned away. He could have made a different choice or no choice at all. Yet, he chose to remain true to his mission and we will all rejoice forever because of it.
While we should never make light of loneliness, we often have more help around us than we realize. The problem comes because we have trained ourselves to believe that in order to gain love and favor, we need to be perfect. We need to have it all together. However, vulnerability, though hard, is essential to forming meaningful connections with those around us.
Earnestly search for those you can share your true feelings with. Be willing to express your struggles in an appropriate manner. Building and maintaining strong relationships is vital to combating loneliness. Do not succumb to your instincts to hide away. Be real. Be raw. Ponder ways the people in your life may currently be acting as an answer to your prayers.
Ponder a Purpose
Though we may feel otherwise, God does not wish to mock us. He does not wish to destroy us. His entire purpose is in our sanctification and refinement so we can one day dwell with him and be like he is. He was willing to forsake his perfect son so that we might have that opportunity. Seek out a purpose to your own feelings of being left alone.
Neal A. Maxwell said, “Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!'”
One of the most beautiful principles of the gospel is the principle of compensation. However, when we are in the throws of turbulent times, we often miss the way the Lord is sustaining us because we are so focused on the things we’ve lost. Trying to cultivate an attitude of gratitude can open our eyes to the ways God may be trying to communicate with us.
Elder Richard G. Scott spoke of this principle when he said, “Find the compensatory blessings in your life when, in the wisdom of the Lord, He deprives you of something you very much want. To the sightless or hearing impaired, He sharpens the other senses. To the ill, He gives patience, understanding, and increased appreciation for others’ kindness. With the loss of a dear one, He deepens the bonds of love, enriches memories, and kindles hope in a future reunion. You will discover compensatory blessings when you willingly accept the will of the Lord and exercise faith in Him.”
Study the Savior
In the end, the one who truly understands how abandoned or desolate you feel is Jesus Christ. The more we study the life of the Savior, the more understanding and perspective we gain about our own.