Sister Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, spoke on the importance of having a “bedrock understanding” of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Alma 42:8) during the general women’s session on Sept. 24.
“When we learn how to apply the doctrine of Christ to our individual circumstances, our love for our Savior grows,” she said.
Sister Stephens shared three examples of how individuals “often find our faith deepened and our relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son refined in adversity.”
First, “the Savior, the Master Healer, has power to change our hearts and give us permanent relief from the sorrow caused by our own sin.”
Sister Stephens shared the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. The Lord knew her serious sins, but knew she had a teachable heart and taught her the gospel in a way she could understand. When the woman had begun to partake of the living water, she left her water pot and “desired to witness of His divinity to others.”
“When we come to Him with humble and teachable hearts — even if our hearts are heavy with mistakes, sins and transgressions, He can change us, for ‘he is mighty to save,’ ” (Alma 34:18) Sister Stephens said.
Second, “the Master Healer can comfort and strengthen us when we experience pain because of the unrighteous actions of others,” Sister Stephens said. She shared how she has had many conversations with women who have been victims of adultery and verbal, sexual and emotional abuse, often because of other people’s addictions. Not knowing how to manage the powerful emotions that come from such trials, “many try to bury them, pushing them deeper into themselves,” she said.
“Hope and healing are not found in the dark abyss of secrecy but in the light and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The Atonement can help God’s children find relief and healing, though it may be a long process, she said. “It will require that you prayerfully seek guidance and appropriate help, including turning to properly ordained priesthood holders. As you learn to communicate openly, set appropriate boundaries, and perhaps seek some professional counseling.”
Sister Stephens urged the sisters to maintain spiritual health throughout the process. “Continue daily to build on the bedrock foundation of the doctrine of Jesus Christ.”
Third, “the Master Healer can comfort and sustain us as we experience painful ‘realities of mortality,’ such as disaster, mental illness, disease, chronic pain and even death.”
Sister Stephens shared the experience of Josie, a young woman who suffers from bipolar disorder. Some days, she experiences sensory overload and sensitivity to sound, touch or light. During one particularly frightening and difficult day, Sister Stephens told how Josie’s mother whispered over and over again, “I would do anything to take this from you.”
When the darkness intensified and she was convinced she could take no more, Josie said she felt a “transcendent and wonderful power” suddenly overtake her body. “You don’t have to,” Josie said. “Someone already has.”
“She was not healed completely that day, but she received the light of hope in a time of intense darkness,” Sister Stephens said. “Today, supported by a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and refreshed daily by the Savior’s living water, Josie continues on her journey toward healing, and exercises unshakable faith in the Master Healer.”
In closing, Sister Stephens testified, “You don’t have to continue to carry the burden of sorrow caused by sin — alone. You don’t have to carry the pain caused by the unrighteous actions of others — alone. You don’t have to experience the painful realities of mortality — alone.”