No one quite knows exactly what we are going through, no one except our Savior Jesus Christ. Even if two people are experiencing deep depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide, their experiences are different from one another. However, our Lord and Savior does know how succor the needs of every individual in a perfect and matchless way, because He has felt every ounce of pain, sorrow, sickness and sin we have ever felt and will ever feel—He has conquered it all (Book of Mormon, Alma 7:11-12).
In a book titled, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior, written by Randall J. Brown, and published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc., Brown shares a personal example of going through “an emotional hell” and how he was able to grow closer to Jesus Christ during that time:
In January 1990, I experienced a fiery trial. I endured a two-week cycle of continuous panic attacks, during which the desperately needed escape of sleep never came. In the midst of this tortuous cycle, I felt as if time had completely stopped, yet the emotional and mental pain continued relentlessly. The panic attacks were followed by periods of deep depression. As a means of enduring the emotional hell I was caught in, I resorted to running through the neighborhood to survive each succeeding wave of panic. At times the symptoms would subside for a few moments. During these brief reprieves, I thanked God for deliverance, only to find that after a few seconds of relief I would slip into a dark depression. The cycle then started again with another wave of panic. It would all wash over me with the same intensity as before. This hellish cycle repeated itself continually, day after day. In my desperation for deliverance, the compulsion to end my own life became a stark reality.
At one point, as I lay on the floor with the nerves in my face twitching uncontrollably, I cried out to the Lord from the deepest part of my soul for deliverance. When the relief I sought did not come immediately, I felt doomed and completely abandoned. I believed that I had descended into the depths of hell, with no means of deliverance. I cried out in my heart, “O God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
As I look back on this harrowing time in my life, I realize that I was given a gift. I received great insight into what the Savior experienced for me in Gethsemane as He suffered and bore the trials and afflictions of my life. Although I am obviously unable to comprehend the infinite depth and breadth of the Savior’s sacrifice, I can understand, to a small degree, what He endured on my behalf. This experience was the commencement of a journey for me. Although it was just the beginning of a series of fiery trials and afflictions, I now know that in this furnace of affliction, the Lord was purging my soul of spiritual wounds, false beliefs, and barriers that kept me from deeply experiencing my Savior’s mercy and grace.
Through my personal school of afflictions, I have become painfully aware of my desperate need for a Savior. I have come face-to-face with the stark reality of my own
nothingness without the divine help of a Savior. I have now come to see that although I have been an active member of the Savior’s restored Church my entire life, the Savior was taking me to a deeper knowledge of Him made possible only through the purging and refining process. Until I experienced such fiery trials, I had not fully experienced a mighty change of heart. My uncircumcised heart contained weeds at its deepest levels, places that only Christ could reach. I was full of fear, guilt, and resentment that served as barriers to faith, hope, and charity, and that kept me from fully experiencing the Savior’s mercy.
Have you ever felt something of the pain that Brown describes in this excerpt? I have, and it is tough business! But I like Brown can testify that God does love us, and He can and will reach to save us, even in the deepest of pits of despair—if we ask! (Note: Part of His help can be in the form of medication when our health requires it).
The words from the hymn come to mind, “I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee” (“I Need Thee Every Hour,” LDS Hymn Book). And it is worth the battle because there is light at the end of the tunnel and you are worth it!
As the former Young Women General President of The Church of Jesus Christ, Sister Susan W. Tanner, said, “Heavenly Father knows you and loves you. You are His special [child]. He has a plan for you” (“Daughters of Heavenly Father,” Ensign, April 2007).
I invite you to read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and feel the power of God enter your life in greater force than you ever could have imagined.
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.