I was reminded with a recent experience that our Savior, Jesus Christ, loves us and will keep his pledge to comfort us when comfort is needed.
For the past few months, a dear elderly widow with whom I am close has been experiencing chest pain. She is part of that World War II generation: kind, compassionate, without guile and tough — a woman of demonstrable inner fortitude. She doesn’t ask people to do for her what she thinks she can do for herself. She “soldiers on” regardless the challenge or trouble. She takes responsibility and, boy oh boy, can she work!
So when she called me to come to her home and then requested that I take her to the emergency room, I knew her pain had to be real and intense. Both the ER physician and cardiologist examined her. They ordered a bunch of tests and found that her heart was healthy and strong.
They wanted to keep her overnight. No, thank you. She promised she would make an appointment with her regular doctor for a full exam. She did so and also visited a specialist. All was well.
A couple of weeks later, after continuing bouts of intense pain, she was back in the emergency room. This time doctors supposed that as an octogenarian, who has been packing and lifting lots of heavy boxes as well as getting out to shovel her driveway, she had strained the muscles around her heart. The prescription was to “take it easy.” Well, easier said than done.
Though she spoke little of it to others, the pain persisted. She called me a week ago to explain what had happened to her the previous night. When evening approached, she took her prescribed medicines. As she readied for bed, she again began experiencing pain in her arm, shoulder and across the left side of her chest. Though it intensified, and with it came growing frustration and worry, she determined she would not go to the ER again.
She dropped to her knees and pled with Heavenly Father to give her some understanding, to know what to do, seeking comfort and answers to her earnest concerns. She prayed intently, perhaps desperately, for some time. Finally, she decided to take a good, hot shower, hoping perhaps this would relieve the pain or, at least, reduce it. In the shower, her prayers and pleas continued.
“Suddenly,” she explained, “a word popped into my head.” It was the name of an over-the-counter medicine her doctor had prescribed to increase bulk in her diet.
Puzzled, she tried to shake it off, but the word stayed with her. After getting out of the shower and dressing, she retrieved the medicine container and read the label. One warning stood out to her, cautioning that some people when taking this medicine experience chest pain. If so, stop taking it and contact your physician.
When she called me and described her experience, I could not help musing. Physicians spend years preparing to practice medicine. It is both a science and an art, and because it requires great skill, it also requires extensive training. Countless years of training had prepared doctors and nurses to diagnose and care for my friend. Yet the problem eluded them. How was it identified?
The great Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught, “(Jesus Christ) will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12, emphasis added).
Let us apply Alma’s words. My friend was alone and suffering with, what was for her, a painful and terrifying infirmity. Scripture teaches us that in process of atoning for our sins, Jesus Christ experienced every infirmity that any person has ever experienced. It is perhaps beyond our finite human minds to comprehend, yet it is so.
The Savior knew exactly what my friend was going through having suffered pains himself. Not only did he know what she was suffering, but because he had experienced it, Christ knew how to succor her. Succor is defined in the dictionary as “something that you do or give to help someone who is suffering or in a difficult situation.” The Savior indicated to her that, in her particular case, she was having an adverse reaction to her medicine.
My friend needs to continue taking this medicine but, in consultation with her physician, has significantly cut back on the amount. Her chest pain has subsided.
God’s promises are real and they are true. Christ’s atoning sacrifice does so much more than provide a process whereby our sins can be remitted. It allows the Savior to comfort, assist, guide and succor us. We are daily blessed and privileged to experience Christ’s infinite love in our lives.
Kristine Frederickson writes on issue-oriented topics that affect members of the LDS Church worldwide in her column “LDS World." She teaches part-time at BYU. Her views do not necessarily represent those of BYU.