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But I didn't finish it.
I had a little time this morning in the back of a car. Back bench, leftmost seat — my preferred spot; as out of the way as I can get. I've made a goal to spend 10 minutes a day studying about Jesus Christ, and I try to do it as early as possible so I can be in the right spirit for the day. So I pulled out Elder Tad Callister's The Infinite Atonement.
I read for about 10 minutes, kind of glancing over the words and looking for something to ponder on, when this sentence smacked me:
"In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed, but it fell, and the life blood of His Beloved Son went out."
The Father gave Abraham Moriah. But He did not give it to Himself.
How much did the Father want to save His tortured Son? His heart must have bled to save Him. And He had the power to do it — to alight on Moriah at the last possible second and spare His Son and Himself excruciating pain. He'd done it before, for Abraham.
Yet, He didn't do it. Despite how His heart ached to fulfill this righteous desire, the Father did not give in. He sent no ram to relieve His grief and His Son's pain. Moriah could not be, not if He wanted to save the rest of His children. So the Father Himself suffered Midian.
He is the God of Midian just as He is the God of Moriah. He has descended from the mount to the desert for us, with us. He understands it Himself. And because He knows both, He offers Moriah whenever He can; and He is there for the child who must traverse the desert to Midian too. He never leaves the side of that child; because He understands, with agonizing precision, the pain of that journey. Sometimes Midian may be best; but He knows that doesn't make it easy.
As I read that sentence this morning, I had a sense of truly not being alone in my own disillusioning Midian experiences. The Father doesn't promise to comfort from a distance; He is not a God of virtual experience. He actually knows the disappointment of thwarted Moriahs; because He knows, He promises glory and joy in the end. He's on my side, literally.
I belong to a heavenly Parent who suffered the most ironic of agonies: having to refuse Himself the desire to save a most beloved and innocent Son from horrific suffering. Surely He knows me and my small, though at times heartbreaking, life ironies.
He is not some Stoic, unfazed manager who rolls His eyes and tells mortals to buck up and push through it all, because really it's not as bad as all that — and we should be ashamed of ourselves for our tears and complaints.
Rather, He is one who loves and comforts the brokenhearted because His own heart has been shattered. He shows tenderness to the struggling because He knows the agony of disappointed hopes. He promises joy to the faithful because He understands pain and desires only to eradicate it.
He listens because He has felt. He embraces because He knows. He does not condemn because He remembers. He is tender because He understands.
He wills to do and be all this because He chose the pain of a miracle untendered.
He can do all this because He rejected Moriah that the miracle of the Atonement might be utterly complete in our behalf.