A friend shared a poignant experience with us. Her 90-something year old father recently broke his leg. His age and health are such that he would probably not survive surgery. Our friend went to visit him in the hospital on Saturday afternoon. When she came home, she told us that his recent years of growing disability and his reflection on his years of roughness and unkindness had broken his spirit. He declared, “I’m going to hell. There is no doubt about it. I am going to hell.” His own childhood was filled with pain and he sometimes passed that on to his long-gone wife and children. “I’m going to hell.” He said this in spite of a lifetime of trying to be a better saint and years of serving in the temple. He was without hope.

I shake my head at his pessimism. “How could he believe such gloomy thoughts? Doesn’t he understand the atonement of Jesus Christ?”

But then I consider my own periodic gloominess. Don’t I often feel discouraged about my prospects? I get weary of my failings. Why do I judge others? Why am I unkind? Why do I do what I do when I know what I know? Don’t I often do the things Jesus condemned? Maybe my prospects are no better than the gloomy man’s.

At times, we all suffer from spiritual discouragement. We get tired of making the same mistakes. We wonder if Jesus is as tired of us as we are of ourselves. We remember dozens of times when we have acted not only imperfectly but wrongfully. We have sinned. And we are burdened by our fallenness.

We may despair. If we are not careful, the despair may become chronic. We may not express it aloud but we feel it in the pit of our stomachs. “I’m a mess. He will not rescue me. He cannot save me.”

We may compare ourselves to the noble and great ones who sit on the stands at conference or even in our own wards. We feel like second class citizens in the kingdom. “If people knew our failings, would they shun us? Maybe we don’t belong here.”

At times we may feel like C. S. Lewis felt on self-examination: “For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion” (Surprised by Joy).

Then something breaks through the gloom. Maybe we hear that great hymn, How Great Thou Art. “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee. How great Thou art, how great Thou art” Something inside us stirs. Our obsession with our own foolishness is crowded out by our wonder at His goodness.

Maybe we are reading the Book of Mormon and we are touched by Nephi’s psalm or Alma’s conversion.

Maybe as we worship in sacrament meeting, we feel the Spirit stir within us. God uses many ways to break through our self-imposed exile. When we drop our defensive pose and cry out in our hearts, “O Jesus, Thou son of God, have mercy on me,” He surrounds us. He carries us as we carry a sleeping child to a place of peace. He wipes our brow and warms our hearts.

God teaches us an unfathomable truth in section 45 of the Doctrine and Covenants. He declares that He is our advocate with the Father and is pleading our cause before Him. He even provides the script He uses.

Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. (Doctrine and Covenants 45:4-5)

Think about it! He presents His merits, His sacrifice, His blood to the Father as payment for our souls. All He asks of us is that we believe on His name. We turn to Him. We call on Him. We make Him our partner.

The question for my friend’s father and for each of us is this: Do we really believe what we claim to believe? Do we really believe in the power of His Atonement? Do we believe that He will allow us to repent of our mistakes and be forgiven? Do we believe that He will present His perfect life in place of our failings when we are presented to the Father?

He is able to turn despair into hope, gloom into rejoicing, discouragement into renewal, filthiness into purity—if we trust Him, if we call on His merits, mercy and grace.

My soul rejoices in the great truth: “Our power to sin does not exceed Jesus’ determination to save us.”

The same great truth applies to those who are leaning against the veil and those of us somewhere in the midst of mortality. We can find hope, peace, and joy by trusting Jesus’ relentless redemptiveness!

My newest book, The Compassionate Heart: Uplifting Your Life and Relationships was just released as an audio book and an eBook.

To get the audio book, go to:


To get the eBook, go to: https://a.co/eykdVda

Thanks to Barbara Keil for her insightful addition to this article.