From Neal A. Maxwell and his book “A More Excellent Way”:

Jesus, as the great physician came to heal the spiritually sick—all of us—certainly to heal the most sick among us. If one can accept God as loving, caring, full of forgiveness, and full of justice—as perfect in each of these attributes—then it must be remembered that the Lord is the final determiner as to who shall enter his kingdom; he is the gate keeper, “and employeth no servant there.” (2 Nephi 9:41) Divine forgiveness is possible even when men do not forgive us. If we have the justified assurance that God has forgiven us, we can forgive ourselves and outlast any unforgiving attitudes of those about us.

The triad, faith, hope, and charity in the scriptures is more than an accidental juxtaposition of three words. The Book of Mormon states, “How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall have hope for? Behold, I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ. . . .” (Moroni 7:40-41.) Hope as a trust or expectation of necessity relates to faith and love. A failure of hope can mean a failure of faith—in one’s self, or God— “For we are saved by hope,” as Paul preached. Believing in or loving one’s self is key to believing in, or loving God, life and others.

In allowing for individual differences which are aggravated by sin, it is important that we not minimize the gravity of the sin, or give gushy, casual reassurances too quickly. However, if one is beset with a feeling of hopelessness reflects on his situation, it should be clear that the earliest he can ever begin to change is now, and the only place from which it is possible ever to begin is here. However long the road back may seem, taking the first step is always necessary to begin any long journey.

But sometimes we let our moods maul our faith, and a mood of hopelessness can ensnare us and prevent one from starting the journey to full fellowship with God. One can certainly be entrapped by the adversary in dramatic ways, but the economy of temptation apparently does not require drama, if minor moods serve the same purpose. Major sin can destroy an individual quickly, but a sustained feeling of hopelessness can cause slow spiritual suicide with the same ultimate result.

The scriptures abound in authentic examples of men and women who were individually different but who fought their way free of the chains of circumstance and moods of hopelessness. Each of them had the courage to hope, the courage to change, the faith to be forgiven and to accept such forgiveness. ~Neal A. Maxwell, A More Excellent Way (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1967), 64-66 (continued)

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