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Hope and forgiveness

Thursday 6 April 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features


Hope and forgiveness

The gospel is a message of hope. The word “gospel” is derived from old English to literally mean “good news”. This good news is centred around the life, ministry, teachings, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, writes Tamatoa Jonassen of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As our thoughts turn to Jesus Christ during this Easter season, let us remember the words of ancient and modern prophets that point us to Christ in whom we can righteously place our faith and hope.

An ancient prophet in old America called Mormon spoke of the importance of hope (Moroni 7:40-42):

“I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?

And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.”
Mormon then goes on to explain that faith and hope are part of being true followers of Christ (Moroni 7:43-44, 47-48):

“And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.

And if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity.

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”

Having true faith in Christ requires having a hope in His power to save. Hoping that His redeeming grace will make us whole, and will cleanse our souls that we may be more like Him, as no unclean thing can enter the Kingdom of God.

We are required to act and make righteous choices. Then after we ourselves do all can, His grace will make up the rest. Easter, a commemoration of the atonement and resurrection of Christ, symbolises the power of forgiveness, which is central to the hope that the gospel of Christ is built on. Just as we are cleansed and forgiven of our shortcomings, we are also asked to forgive others. The power of forgiveness will bless our lives and fulfil our righteous hope.

This past weekend, President Nelson, a holy man and modern prophet shared with us a message of forgiveness that I wish to amplify:

“As we approach Easter, my thoughts have lingered on one of the last moments of the Savior’s mortal Ministry. As He was being crucified on Calvary’s cross the Redeemer of all mankind uttered these timeless words: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’.

How is it possible in His time of excruciating agony for Jesus Christ to ask His Father to forgive His tormentors?

And yet, on the cross, Jesus did exactly that. He practiced what He had preached.

He taught us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and even to pray for those who despitefully use us.

I know from firsthand experience that forgiveness blesses both the forgiver and the forgiven.

There is nothing easy about forgiving those who have disappointed us, hurt us, cheated us, or spread false rumours about us. However, not forgiving others is poison for us. Grudges weigh us down. Angry disagreements separate us. Animosity and hatred can divide families. And yet, the Savior’s counsel is clear: “if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Forgiving others does not mean condoning sinful or criminal behaviour. And it certainly does not mean staying in abusive situations. But when we choose to forgive others, we allow the Lord to remove the poison from our souls. We permit Him to soothe and soften our hearts, so we can see others, especially those who have wronged us, as children of God, and as our brothers and sisters.

Every Easter we rejoice in the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the epitome of forgiveness. My dear friends I invite you prayerfully to consider if there is someone whom you should forgive. Will you free yourself from a grudge you may be harbouring? I can think of no more fitting way to honour the Lord Jesus Christ this Easter. I promise that as you forgive, the Savior will relieve you of anger, resentment, and pain. The Prince of Peace will bring you peace. Jesus Christ is risen! He loves you. And because of Him, you can experience the joy and miracle of forgiveness.”

As we seek to follow our Savior Jesus Christ, I invite all to learn of His Atonement, His love, His mercy, and His gospel of hope and healing. We have a special Easter sacrament meeting at 10am Sunday, April 9 at all chapels, and our District Conference for all the Cook Islands will be on Saturday, April 22 at 6pm and Sunday, April 23 at 10am at the Arorangi chapel; all are invited.

May we exert our faith, strive according to our hope, and seek and apply the love of Christ in our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.