“The Pains and the Sicknesses” – Alma 7:11-12

Today, I’ve been pondering the following description of the Savior’s mortal life, given by the prophet Alma:

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 sicknesses 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)

What did Alma mean when he said, “that the word might be fulfilled?” What earlier prophecy was he referring to? I haven’t been able to find any passage in the Old Testament which talks about the Savior taking upon Himself “the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” The closest I’ve found is a passage from Isaiah: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). Abinadi quoted this passage in King Noah’s court (Mosiah 14:4), and since Alma’s father was converted by that sermon, it makes sense that this passage would have been familiar to him. I think that is the passage he was referring to.

Here’s how Bishop Gérald Caussé paraphrased Alma’s message:

In addition to bearing the burden of our sins, the Christ took upon Himself our sorrows, infirmities, sufferings, and sicknesses and all the afflictions inherent in the mortal condition of man. There is no anguish, no pain or sadness that He did not suffer for us.
(“A Living Witness of the Living Christ,” General Conference, April 2020)

And as Elder James R. Rasband has explained, this doctrine means that the Savior’s atonement can heal us not only of our self-inflicted wounds, but also of the wounds others inflict upon us:

Although we do not fully understand the sacred mechanics by which the Savior’s atoning sacrifice heals and restores, we do know that to ensure a righteous judgment, the Savior will clear away the underbrush of ignorance and the painful thorns of hurt caused by others.
(“Ensuring a Righteous Judgment,” General Conference, April 2020)

I’m grateful that the Savior can heal every wound I receive in this life. I am grateful to know that I can turn to Him for help and healing regardless of whether I have caused the pain or whether it has come from another source. Today, I will turn my heart to Jesus Christ, with faith that He can remove all of the pains and the sicknesses that we experience.

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