I grew up in a family of ten children in a small farming community. My sturdy religious background ingrained within me a value system I hold sacred. As a young child, I didn't quite understand the reality of the atonement however...

Because I was taught to pray as a child, I was touched by God's love for me. When I knelt in prayer, I visualized God resembling my earthly father - dressed in white - kneeling in heaven listening to my prayers.

Kneeling in faith

As an adult, I had experienced trials; trials that felt as if they would never pass. An illness that gripped my body plagued me on a daily basis. There was little response to treatments. Each morning I sat at my kitchen window and prayed, "God, where are you?" The gentle swaying of the evergreens in the distance seemed to bring calm words in my mind as if God were whispering, "I am here, Jelean, I am here." I felt His strength - then it was gone. The trees were motionless, silent, and cold, and so were the heavens.

Faith was slipping away like water being held in a closed fist. I struggled and doubted. I had much to learn from my trials. When we ask God to take our pain away, He lovingly tells us, "Not right now, but I will send comfort and answers." And he did. Slowly with time, with new medications, new doctors, and new insight, my pain eased. I became functional.

Once again I felt His love, strength and His calming words. Each of us may experience bonding with the Savior - and faith in his sacrifice - in different ways. For me, it was through pain. It was during my years of hardships that a deeper more abiding love developed between Jesus and me.

Walking in faith

"I walked today where Jesus walked," words to a hymn referring to a literal walk in the Holy Land where Jesus grew and served His mission then suffered the ultimate sacrifice.

Jesus Christ took all of the pain and sins of everyone. He bled from every pore. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus atoned - not only for my sins - but for my pain and suffering. "I walked today where Jesus walked and felt His presence there." Has he walked down my path? Have I felt His presence? Most assuredly.

Going forward in faith

He knows my suffering. He has been on far more strenuous paths than I have walked and He has been on mine. I have felt love from Him who knows pain. Only after tremendous challenges did I feel and appreciate the atonement and the sweetness of His love. I have felt comfort and encouragement, "Jelean, it's only for a season, and I'll be with you."

Some time ago I spent the week before Christmas in a hospital. It was Sunday morning, and I was able to participate in a church service. At that moment, I experienced an assurance in my heart that He felt of my devotion to Him. And on that day, I was reminded of to feel grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. Gratitude and humility were present in the hospital setting where each of us was experiencing his or her personal agony. I came to realize Jesus knows and loves me with a love that is unconditionally given to each of us.

My faith was renewed. I learned that when we have faith and are healed, we rejoice. When we have faith and are not healed it takes an overabundance of faith to endure, perhaps even greater faith. I had developed a deep bond with Jesus. I knew it was His love and sacrifice that relieved my suffering. I once again had faith in His sacrifice for me. The weakness that had gripped my body caused me to grow immeasurably. I felt strength, gratefulness, determination, and I felt faith.

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