Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Immunizations and the Infinite Atonement

In March (at three months old), Grant got a set of immunizations. I've done my share of studying up on these, and I feel strongly that I want my children to be immunized. So I put my arms around him and held him tight so his wiggling wouldn't worsen the pain and lengthen the procedure, and I did all I could to distract him. As soon as the needle went into his chubby little thigh, he looked up at me with big, horror-struck eyes as if to say, "Mom, why would you let them do this to me?!" and then the tears and sobs began. The doctor warned me that Grant might be cranky or sore and might have a fever over the next 24 hours, but I was prepared after last time. I gave him his Tylenol dose before the appointment so it could kick in immediately.

He cried on and off all the way home, and when he wouldn't sleep alone in his crib I decided to lay next to him in my bed. His tear-streaked face was red and his eyes were a little puffy, but once I was next to him he drifted off to sleep. It didn't end there, though, because although he was asleep his face would contort in pain and he would moan the tiniest, most pathetic wimpers I'd ever heard. This went on every fifteen minutes or so for several hours, causing me to just lay there with my arms around him, my sleepless vigil marked by aching pain every time I heard a wimper or saw his little brow furrow. Why was it hurting me so much? Why were tears running down my cheeks? It was the first time I really understood the parents I've heard tell of how they feel the pain of their children.

I had many poignant thoughts during those hours, including the following: I knew that it needed to be done to protect Grant from greater pain and danger that might arise without the immunizations, so no matter how hard it was for him and me right then, I wouldn't change it. If I could take the pain onto myself, however, and still have him receive the benefits, I would have done so in a heartbeat. But since I couldn't remove it and wouldn't change it, all I could do was to promise that I would lay next to him, wipe his tears, and hold him until he was through it. And after a few hours, he woke up to eat and then fell asleep contented and feeling good. The whole painful ordeal only lasted three hours, and I could relax knowing that he would be less susceptible to the illnesses and diseases he might encounter.

During those hours I thought a great deal about Heavenly Father and learned some powerful lessons. I know God has the power and capability to stop things from happening and to change the course of events in our lives, and I feel that sometimes He intervenes and does just that. But I also know that He knows that keeping us from all pain or sorrow is ultimately not what is best for us because our aim is to become like Him. These things help us grow, they give us compassion for others, and they can help protect us from greater sorrows we would otherwise have received in the future.

But He has not left us alone. He will not remove all of the hard things from our lives, but He will not leave us alone, either. "You have to go through this, but I will be right here with you, to comfort you, to wipe your tears, and to hold you until you get through it."

"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." (John 14:18)

Then I thought about how no one has ever been able to take away someone else's experiences or trials. But there is One, and only one, who was able to take away much of the pain, and who made it possible to completely remove sin. Jesus Christ can take it away because He experienced and suffered for everything we have and will feel, including our temptations, sorrows, sins, pains, sicknesses, even death, "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.(see Alma 7)" One meaning of the word succor is "to run to." He will run to us in our moments of distress, and the power of His infinite and atoning sacrifice can remove all sin and can ease the pain of all other afflictions. He has done for all of us what so many of us wish we could do for our loved ones: He truly has taken our burdens upon Himself. Some of it is free, by virtue of us coming to this earth (e.g. resurrection), but most of it comes as the result of righteousness, sincere prayer, and repentance.

Heavenly Father has given us every opportunity we need to become like Him and have the joy He experiences. This means we will all go through our immunizing experiences. But we are not alone. President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) once remarked:

“Don’t be afraid of the testing and trials of life. Sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea, for like the experience of the Master himself in the temptation on the mount, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross at Calvary, the scriptures record, ‘And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.’ (
Matt. 4:11.) Sometimes that may happen to you in the midst of your trials.”
(in Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference, 1973, 114; qtd. in
Ensign [Feb. 2003], by Elder Ray H. Wood of the Seventy, "Our Thorns in the Flesh")

1 comment:

Crystal and Scott said...

Great idea! You should turn this into a book one day!!


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