Sunday School

The Living Bread

Faith Sufficient that I Should Heal You

Of the many miracles recorded in 3 Nephi 17, perhaps one of the most poignant is the Savior’s healing of the sick and afflicted (3 Nephi 17:6-10). As you study the Savior’s ministry to the ancient Americas, try to imagine yourself in the crowd of Nephites. For example, prayerfully ponder what afflictions you would bring to the Savior at His invitation.

Your challenge may be a serious physical disability, a struggle with lingering illness, or a daily wrestle with a life-threatening disease. It may have roots in the death of a loved one, the anguish caused by another bound by sin, or come from abuse in any of its evil forms. Whatever the cause, I testify that lasting relief is available on conditions established by the Lord.

It is important to understand that His healing can mean being cured, or having your burdens eased, or even coming to realize that it is worth it to endure to the end patiently, for God needs brave sons and daughters who are willing to be polished when in His wisdom that is His will.

Recognize that some challenges in life will not be resolved here on earth. Paul pled thrice that “a thorn in the flesh” be removed. The Lord simply answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” He gave Paul strength to compensate so he could live a most meaningful life. He wants you to learn how to be cured when that is His will and how to obtain strength to live with your challenge when He intends it to be an instrument for growth. In either case the Redeemer will support you. That is why He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When you feel you can do no more, temporarily lay your challenges at His feet.

Richard G. Scott, To Be Healed

I Am the Living Bread

In Chapter 18, the Lord introduces the Nephites to the Sacrament. Whether to His apostles in ancient Jerusalem, to His disciples in the New World, or to His latter-day saints in modern times, the Lord has consistently taught the same principles and promises to His followers. As you study the following verses, consider the similarities in the Savior’s teachings across time.

Matthew 26:26-283 Nephi 18:1-12Doctrine and Covenants 20:75-79
Doctrine and Covenants 27:1-4John 6:51-603 Nephi 20:2-9

Although the verses above share many similarities, the people hearing the Savior’s words shared very little in common: frightened apostles, newly-called disciples, murmuring followers, and members of a recently organized church. The Lord’s consistent teachings regarding the Sacrament illustrate the vital nature of the ordinance. No matter our specific situation, worthily partaking of the Sacrament offers the peace and power that is essential for facing our challenges each week.

As you study the record of the Nephites’ first experience with the Sacrament, you may notice a repeated phrase: “when they had eaten and were filled.” When was the last time you felt spiritually “filled” when partaking of the Sacrament? What prevents or distracts you from being “filled” by the Sacrament, and how can you overcome those obstacles?

As you examine your life during the ordinance of the sacrament, I hope your thoughts center not only on things you have done wrong but also on things you have done right—moments when you have felt that Heavenly Father and the Savior were pleased with you. You may even take a moment during the sacrament to ask God to help you see these things. If you do, I promise you will feel something. You will feel hope.

Always is a long time, and it implies a lot of focused effort. You know from experience how hard it is to think consciously of one thing all the time. But no matter how well you keep your promise to always remember Him, He always remembers you.

The Savior knows your challenges. He knows what it is like to have the cares of life press upon you. He knows how urgently you need the blessing that comes from always remembering Him and obeying Him.

So He welcomes you back to the sacrament table each week, once again offering you the chance to witness before Him that you will always remember Him.

Henry B. Eyring, Always Remember Him

I Pray Unto Thee for Them

Each chapter in this week’s scripture study contains the very words that Jesus used as He prayed. Carefully search each chapter for the Savior’s example of perfect prayer. As you ponder the passages below – and any additional verses you find in your own study – ask yourself: for whom is the Lord praying? How does the Lord’s posture communicate reverence? When does the Lord pray or invite others to pray? What is the purpose for each of the Lord’s prayers?

3 Nephi 17:33 Nephi 17:14-18
3 Nephi 18:16-213 Nephi 18:22-23
3 Nephi 19:6-103 Nephi 19:16-24
3 Nephi 19:26-303 Nephi 19:31-36

Also consider the following questions from this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me – For Individuals and Families:

  • What might the Savior say in your behalf?
  • What do you learn from Christ’s example that can make your own prayers more meaningful?
  • What blessing from prayer have you seen in your life?
  • How can you improve the spiritual power of your prayers, both as an individual and as a family?

We pray to our Heavenly Father in the sacred name of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Prayer is most effective when we strive to be clean and obedient, with worthy motives, and are willing to do what He asks. Humble, trusting prayer brings direction and peace.

Don’t worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your compassionate, understanding Father. You are His precious child whom He loves perfectly and wants to help. As you pray, recognize that Father in Heaven is near and He is listening.

A key to improved prayer is to learn to ask the right questions. Consider changing from asking for the things you want to honestly seeking what He wants for you. Then as you learn His will, pray that you will be led to have the strength to fulfill it.

Should you ever feel distanced from our Father, it could be for many reasons. Whatever the cause, as you continue to plead for help, He will guide you to do that which will restore your confidence that He is near. Pray even when you have no desire to pray. Sometimes, like a child, you may…feel you cannot approach your Father with a problem. That is when you most need to pray. Never feel you are too unworthy to pray.

I wonder if we can ever really fathom the immense power of prayer until we encounter an overpowering, urgent problem and realize that we are powerless to resolve it. Then we will turn to our Father in humble recognition of our total dependence on Him. It helps to find a secluded place where our feelings can be vocally expressed as long and as intensely as necessary.

Richard G. Scott, Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer

Additional Resources

One thought on “The Living Bread

  1. I really liked this essay about J.R.R. Tolkein’s understanding of how Christ helps us carry our weights.

    Mary Nikkel
    I’ve threatened this digital essay for some time, and now I feel like my timeline could use some nerdom, so the moment has come: it’s time for my full defense of Frodo. 😉
    I remember when I was younger, I struggled to accept and understand why a lot of my peers found Frodo either forgettable or material for mocking. I understand it a little better now: the movies DO often make him not particularly likable or watchable. The book portrays him as someone who doesn’t seem to be experiencing a reasonable range of human expression/emotion, which admittedly can make him less compelling to read about. I understand that. But I also think it’s integral to the point of the character.
    Frodo and Sam are necessary for understanding each other. Sam was a character cast from the mold that Tolkien learned on the frontlines of World War I. Tolkien saw Sam as the everyday hero, the embodiment of the simple good-hearted courage of the men he watched die in the trenches. Sam’s obstacles are exterior to himself: the geography. The threat of enemy soldiers (orcs), of Shelob, of his companion’s physical and mental difficulties.
    By contrast, Frodo’s obstacles are primarily internal. He endured a lot of those same exterior challenges as Sam, but Sam did much to absorb their impact (see the Cirith Ungol rescue). Frodo’s challenges are the slow, steady erosion of a soul being asked to carry a tremendous internal darkness without being consumed by it. Everything he was became laser-focused on that monolithic spiritual and emotional task.
    This is why, at the end, Frodo had to sacrifice far more than Sam. Because Sam’s primary struggle was against external forces, once those external forces were alleviated, he could go home, marry, have children, live as a functional member of his community. For Frodo, the cessation of exterior pressure could do nothing to mend the way his soul had been burning from the inside out.
    This is a hard thing to portray in movie form (the greatest weakness of the LotR movies is their inability to portray subtlety and spirituality, two traits the narrative Tolkien crafted requires). We see Frodo’s neck chapping from the actual physical weight of the Ring as a representation; well and good. But it’s hard to truly convey the immense mental weight, the crucible of enduring without utter collapse.
    If Sam is a kind of patron saint for the good-hearted soldier, I would posit that Frodo is the patron saint of the depressed, the suicidal, the addicted, the ones living with trauma. We see it best maybe at Mount Doom, where Frodo’s very self has been ground down to nearly nothing: “No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades.”
    If you’d ever been deeply depressed, ever lived chained in the prison of PTSD, you will have experienced that exact same thing.
    And of course that’s not always the most likable thing to read about or to watch. Mental anguish has a way of stripping away so many of the human details about you, even your personality itself.
    “Frodo is a study of a hobbit broken by a burden of fear and horror— broken down, and in the end made into something quite different,” J.R.R. Tolkien himself wrote.
    In another letter (#246, for the curious), Tolkien addressed the concern that had been posed to him that Frodo was a weak and failed hero, that his decision at Mount Doom proved it. “I do not think that Frodo’s was a moral failure,” Tolkien clarified. “At the last moment the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum– impossible, I should have said, for any one to resist, certainly after long possession, months of increasing torment, and when starved and exhausted… I do not myself see that the breaking of his mind and will under demonic pressure after torment was any more a moral failure than the breaking of his body would have been– say, by being strangled by Gollum, or crushed by a falling rock.”
    Tolkien built into Frodo a validation of the internal struggle, marking it not as weakness, but ultimately even as a special kind of strength. Through the character of Frodo, Tolkien displayed that internal anguish, fear, and pain were not moral failings. He might not have known it, but Tolkien was building an incredibly beautiful fictitious case study on the impact of trauma on the soul and the human ability to endure.
    “Frodo undertook his quest out of love– to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the task,” Tolkien summarized. “His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that.”
    And for any of us carrying a weight of horror, trauma, grief, dread, anxiety, depression, despair— maybe our hope is the same. To do what we can. To know that, even when our minds give out under the tremendous weight, we are still enough.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s