There is an aspect of salvation which I often overlook. In fact, I overlooked it as I outlined our need for a Savior. I tend to focus on saving Grace, but we don't just need salvation from our sins. We also need salvation from the challenges, trials, sicknesses, sorrows, and heartache which accompany everyday life. And Jesus provides that, too. We'll call this aspect of salvation "sustaining Grace."
No one is immune from trouble. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with a "thorn in the flesh." 2 Corinthians 12:7. Although he prayed three times that the Lord would take it away, it remained with him. 2 Corinthians 12:8. The troubles I'm speaking of aren't those which are the consequence of sin. Rather, I speak of the heartaches and trails which afflict us through no fault of our own. Remember the story of the blind man whom Jesus healed: He and His disciples encountered a man who was born blind. "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." John 9:1-3.
Now, to be clear, while these trials and troubles may not be the result of sin and may not be sins themselves, our reactions to them may be sinful. But whether its blindness, depression, abuse, homosexual attraction, gender confusion, loneliness, or any other affliction common to mankind, the fact that it's not our fault that we have them doesn't make dealing with them any easier. Nor does it make resisting the impulse to react sinfully to them any easier, either.
But Jesus understands perfectly what it is like to suffer as we do because He went "forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; . . . And he [took] upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he [took] 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 7:11-12. "Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." Isaiah 53:4.
And when the scriptures say Jesus took upon Himself our infirmities, griefs, and sorrows they mean all of our infirmities, griefs, and sorrows. Their is no pain, sorrow, or affliction that He didn't feel. I know that.
For years, I have struggled with depression. It's my own "thorn in the flesh." It started in High School. Off and on for years, I would experience episodes of deep depression. Four years ago, after my application to enter into the Seminary Teaching training program was denied, I fell into the deepest depression I have ever experienced. It's been laced with feelings of extreme inadequacy and worthlessness. And throughout law school, I've struggled not to give up and surrender.
But knowing that Jesus felt it too, I know that He knows how to succor me. And while He hasn't yet removed this thorn from my flesh, I am learning how to draw upon His Sustaining Grace. Certainly, it's not easy. Yet I remember His words, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.