I still remember the first time I saw a cactus growing naturally in its environment. I live in the prairies, so going to see the desert is always a cool experience. I know a cactus thorn is sharp but I didn’t know if I realized how sharp they really are until the first time I saw one. I couldn’t resist just barely touching the tip of one. The sharpness surprised me and left a dull ache in the spot I had touched it.
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.”Matt. 27:27–30
There are times in life that hurt so badly they surprise you with the pain. When you are brought to your knees in desperation and sorrow. Why this? Why now? Could this have been avoided? Did I do something to deserve this?
The week after my little sister died I had gone back to work for a few days, mostly because I needed something to fill my time. So that I wouldn’t be filled with the questions. I was lost and numbly going about the actions on a usual day.
I had gotten up from my desk and walked into the kitchen area to fill my water bottle and I overheard my boss talking about my being at work. I heard him say to my coworker “I don’t know why she’s even that sad. It’s not a big deal. They couldn’t have been that close. She’s acting ridiculously.”
I immediately broke down into tears and grabbed my stuff and left, not telling anyone I was leaving. He had poured salt into my tender wounds in a heartless way. He acted cruel and unkind.
All around us are people who are suffering through unimaginable tragedies. Marriages in trouble. Families struggling to feed themselves. People with severe mental health struggles. Some struggle with suicidal thoughts. Parents with heavy hearts over a child’s actions and the consequences of sin. Daily physical pain wearing down others. People who are numbly going through their days trying to hold back their tears and put on a brave face.
One of the most amazing things to me about Jesus Christ is how He knows how to comfort us. Somehow, in the process of His Infinite Atonement He felt every single heartache and pain. In His agony He became acquainted with each of our individualized sorrows.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the illnesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take 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
For the purpose of mocking and causing Jesus pain, the soldiers fashioned a crown of thorns and placed it on His head. They were cruel and unkind. Jesus then turned that crown of pain into something holy. His experiences were such that He understands ours completely. Our pain and suffering may be our crown of thorns. If we allow Jesus to help us endure the pain and then heal, He can turn it into something holy too.
Pain, loss, suffering, consequences of sin are all a part of our earthly experience. They come to us through our choices or others’ choices and through imperfect physical bodies. We can not avoid them. They were, in fact, part of the deal of this earthly experience. Even essential in our growth and development. For us to become Celestial beings who can live with God we must experience the pain.
These painful experiences can change us. They can turn us into spiteful, mean creatures. Or they can soften our hearts and minds. We can cling to the principles of the gospel and hold onto the knowledge that God will carry us through them. We can build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in the midst of our suffering. It is in the pain, loss, suffering, and consequences that we truly find His love. We see how He can save us. We can see how He can turn our pain and suffering into something holy.
May we each let Him help us endure, comfort and heal us.
PC: Rhonda Steed Photography – ‘Crown of Thorns’ can be purchased in the shop at ArtfulHeart.org
Rhonda is our Digital Illustrator and part of our Content Team.
Rhonda is a life long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints thanks to her parents joining the church when they were younger.
Rhonda was married to her love, Regan, in 2000 and together they have 5 unique, creative, incredibly smart kids. Rhonda feels completely overwhelmed with the many humans she must boss around.
They love music in their house of all kinds (really except Rap) from the different lessons her kids take to the various basement concerts they host.
Rhonda likes to pretend she’s organized, but really she’s an unorganized spontaneous creative extrovert. She’s interested in learning everything and seeing everywhere and anywhere.
Rhonda loves traveling and seeing different places but Waterton Parks, Alberta, Canada is her favorite place to visit.
Rhonda is a bit obsessed with bread (in fact a “bread head”) and she loves baking and cooking anything, especially if it is difficult to bake. She doesn’t go many days without baking something. She loves pretty much all good food and her husband teases her that she’s a food snob but she’ll kindly accept any treats you want to make her.
Rhonda is a professional photographer, a “for fun” painter, an obsessive memory keeper, a quick reader, and a lover of nature. She will talk to pretty much anyone and loves making new friends and considers herself great at friend matching – helping match people who be good friends with each other.
Rhonda is terrible at saying no to things so she’s currently sitting on 3 town boards in her lovely town of Raymond, Alberta, Canada. She loves to discuss the different aspects of the gospel and currently serves as a ward gospel doctrine teacher.
Rhonda currently resides in Alberta, Canada.