Mathematics Faculty Member
Sahar Qumsiyeh was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Beit Sahour, a town close to Bethlehem. She is the youngest of six children and the only member of the Church in her family.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Bethlehem University, Sahar earned a master’s degree from BYU and a PhD from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, both in statistics. She has taught at various universities in Palestine and worked for four years as a data analyst with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Jerusalem. She is also the author of Peace for a Palestinian: One Woman’s Story of Faith Amidst War in the Holy Land.
In addition to serving a mission in London, England in 2014, Sahar has held several callings in the Church, including Relief Society president, Primary president, and Relief Society teacher. She currently serves as a Sunday School teacher in her ward.
Please respond to the question below on the devotional discussion board:
Why do you feel you need Jesus Christ in your life? How do you apply the Savior’s Atonement in your life each day?
I asked you on the discussion board to tell me why you feel you need Jesus Christ in your life. Thank you for your comments. I loved the comment by Trisha Kempton. She said: “I need my Savior because I know I am nothing without Him. My feeble attempts to serve, learn, and grow wouldn’t get me very far without His almighty hand. I’ve had many experiences that have helped me realize that. He has come to my rescue again and again. His love transcends any love.”
Many of you said that you need a Savior because He helps you overcome your weaknesses. This is what I would like to focus on today. I would like to talk about the enabling power that the Savior gives us. Jesus Christ is a source of strength, power, light, healing, and hope in our lives.
This is what President Dallin H. Oaks said about the Savior:
Our Savior’s Atonement does more than assure us of immortality by a universal resurrection and give us the opportunity to be cleansed from sin by repentance and baptism. His Atonement also provides the opportunity to call upon Him who has experienced all of our mortal infirmities to give us the strength to bear the burdens of mortality. He knows of our anguish, and He is there for us. Like the good Samaritan, when He finds us wounded at the wayside, He will bind up our wounds and care for us. The healing and strengthening power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is for all of us who will ask. I testify of that as I also testify of our Savior, who makes it all possible. 
I would like to focus on two things during my talk:
- The Savior gives us power beyond our own.
- The Savior gives us strength to endure trials.
The Savior Gives Us Power Beyond Our Own
Sometimes we think we are not capable of doing certain things. I hear comments from my students such as, “My brain isn’t wired to do math,” or “I am not good at math.” It is true that there are people who are better at math than you, but that does not mean you can’t do it. This just means you need to put in more effort than others do. Focusing on our weaknesses may hinder our progress. We may think that we must be born with certain skills and abilities; they must be in our genes. This is not the case.
Do you think Nephi could build a ship? Could the brother of Jared have caused light to come into dark barges? Do you think Noah could have built an ark that would hold two of every animal species on the earth? Do you think Moses had the power to part a sea? Actually, no. None of these men had the power to do any of these things. However, they all had something in common. They all knew how to tap into the power of someone who could—the Savior’s power.
It is so important that we learn how to tap into that power. The Atonement literally means “at-one-ment,” or becoming one with God. The Savior gave us the power to become gods. He enabled us so we would be able to perform miracles through Him. But we must understand that this kind of power is not free. There is only one thing that the Savior, through His Atonement, gave us for free and that is the power to overcome death. Everything else that He offers must come “after all we can do.” 
For example, Jesus Christ promises us eternal life, but only after we have faith in Him, obey His commandments, and endure to the end. Similarly, He gives us power to move mountains, but only after doing all we can and having trust in Him. The power to change our lives, change the world, and perform miracles is within each of us. However, we need to have enough humility to realize that, in the end, we are not the ones performing the miracles—He is.
Occasionally, I have a student who does not do their homework, rarely comes to class, and then comes at the end of the semester and asks, “Sister Qumsiyeh, is there anything I can do to pass? Do you offer any extra credit?”
I know some of you are smiling right now because you know you have done this to your teachers. This is what I wish I could say to the student who asks that question: “You need to invent a time machine and go back and do what you should have done this semester. You failed because you did not try your best. It is too late.”
Do we all really hope to stand before the Savior at the Judgement Day and expect Him to save us without us doing our part? Do we really expect Him to allow us into the celestial kingdom and to just save us? No, that is not how the Atonement works. It does not work without us having tried our best. Of course, our best may not be enough. In fact, it hardly ever is. But if we do our best and have faith in Him, He magnifies our efforts. The brother of Jared could not make the 16 stones shine, but he spent hours preparing them and then humbly took them to the Lord and basically said, “Here is my small effort; magnify it.” This the Lord did. 
Elder David A. Bednar said, “The power of the Atonement makes repentance possible and quells the despair caused by sin; it also strengthens us to see, do, and become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity.” 
I want to share a personal experience with you regarding that principle. I grew up close to Bethlehem and the only branch where I could attend church was the BYU Jerusalem Center. Palestinians living in the West Bank are not allowed into Jerusalem, so for years, I had to sneak into Jerusalem, getting shot at sometimes and risking being arrested so I could attend church services. The trip would take three hours and would involve me climbing hills and walls and hiding from soldiers. I felt that each Sabbath I was given the strength and protection I needed to get to church.
I remember one Sabbath in particular. I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting that week. However, the day before, we had curfew imposed on us by the Israeli soldiers. Curfew in Bethlehem is not something you want to break. It is an all-day long curfew and lasts for weeks sometimes. You are not allowed to leave your house for any reason. Anyone who leaves their house risks getting shot.
For some reason, I felt that Heavenly Father wanted me to give that talk, but I wondered how He expected me to get to church! I mean, even if I were to manage to leave my house without getting shot, I did not have a car then. How would I find public transportation to get to Jerusalem? There was no one on the roads except soldiers.
I decided to do all that I could. I knelt down and basically told Heavenly Father that all I can do is walk outside. That was the extent of what I could do. He had to do the rest.
I did just that. I got dressed in my Sunday clothes, got out of our house and down the few steps out of our porch, and walked on to the road. Amazingly enough, there was a taxi right in front of my house! Now, we live on a small street. We never see taxis pass by our street, even during normal days. I approached the taxi driver and asked him where he was going. Guess where was he going? To Jerusalem, of course. Right where I wanted to go! He had others with him in the taxi, but he had room for one more person.
The taxi driver knew exactly which roads had soldiers on them and avoided those roads. Then we eventually got to where there was only one road leading out of town, and that road had soldiers on it. The taxi driver decided to go off the road to avoid the soldiers. He went into a hay field. We drove in hay fields for about half an hour. It was very bumpy, dusty, and rocky. Finally, we found a dirt road. I was so thrilled to not be in a field! However, a few short minutes later, we saw a pile of rocks blocking that dirt road. I thought we would have to turn around and go back. Luckily, the taxi driver had more hope and courage than I did. He went off the dirt road and into an olive tree field. He maneuvered around the olive trees until he got us to the other side of the pile of rocks.
I made it to church that day. As I entered the Jerusalem Center I reflected on my journey and thought, “That was impossible!” There was no way I could have made it to church by my efforts alone. The effort I made, just walking outside, was so small compared to the miracle the Lord provided.
Brothers and sisters, we give up too easily, especially when something seems impossible or hard.
In last week’s devotional, Brother Doug Thompson said that in order to complete our journey, we must avoid the urge to quit. We do this by seeking spiritual nutrients and seeking a celestial life.  If we continue trying, we will reach our goal.
In your classes, make sure do your best! In your job, do your best! In your callings, in your home and in everything you do, do the best you can. The Lord will sanctify your efforts and make them enough if you approach Him in faith and ask for His power from on high.
Listen to what President Russell M. Nelson says:
Another element in drawing the Savior’s power into our lives is to reach up to Him in faith. Such reaching requires diligent, focused effort. . . . When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do. When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done before, then His power will flow into you. 
The Savior Gives Us Strength to Endure Our Trials
The second point I want to cover is the Savior gives us strength to endure our trials.
Do you ever feel like someone has switched off the light in your life and did not turn it back on? Does it seem like our lives just stopped after COVID hit? Sometimes when we face trials we start to feel alone and abandoned.
We live in an age where the internet has taught us that we can get answers right away. Fast food restaurants taught us that we can immediately find food when we are hungry. Sometimes when faced with trials, we want our trials gone, now! Through the years, I have come to understand that Heavenly Father rarely removes our trials. He does, however, give us the strength to endure them and learn from them.
In the book of Alma, we read about the Savior’s mission:
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. 
The Savior did not just carry our sins; He carried all our pain, sadness, and suffering. He, and He alone, knows how to succor us and help us when we are struggling. We sometimes let the darkness of trials obscure our view of the Savior. We fail to look to Him. We doubt and question if the night will ever end. If you feel like you are in a dark place, alone and afraid, I promise that you will find comfort as you focus your eyes on the Light of the World, the Savior Jesus Christ. When He is the center focus of our lives, we will see clearer and have more purpose. We will feel of His love for us.
Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge said: “Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple. We have only two choices. We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, light, strength, knowledge, confidence, love, and joy, or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone—without His support, without His power, without guidance, in darkness, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier?” 
If you are struggling right now, I invite you to reach towards the Savior. When Peter took his eyes off the Savior, he was afraid and began to sink. He cried, “Lord, save me.”  Just like Christ did when Peter asked for His help in a stormy sea, He will reach out to you and lift you up as well. He may not calm your storms, but He will give you the strength to endure them.
President Nelson said, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation . . . and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. . . . For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!” 
How do we make Christ the center focus of our lives? Well, we start by turning off all other sources—our games, our cell phones, our TVs—and focus on Christ. We read about Him and we follow Him. When I obeyed the prophet’s commandment to read the Book of Mormon and highlight every verse that talked about the Savior, I felt my life was filled with light. I felt happier and had more purpose.
I invite you to take that challenge. Make your scripture study more focused. Look for verses about the Savior and learn how to apply His teachings in your life. As you get to know Him better, you will feel His light coming into your life. You will feel your fears and doubts disappear.
Lloyd Newell says this:
When the darkness around us seems overwhelming, when we can’t seem to find any light, it helps to remember that even when we can’t see it, the sun is always shining. It may be hidden by the shadowy clouds of daily living, but it is always there. Perhaps night has made light seem like a distant memory, but darkness is ever the herald of dawn. No matter the darkness in our lives, the light of God’s love still shines, and it can fill our hearts. It gives us hope in our suffering, joy in our sorrows, and light in our darkness. Yes, there is much in this life that brings sadness and distress. But God has also filled the world with an abundance of His light and love. If we seek it and receive it, this light can fill our lives like sunshine in the soul. 
Brothers and sisters, just like Mahonri’s 16 stones the Lord touched and made shine, when He touches our hearts, we too can shine. When we follow Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world, we too can reflect His light and shine. As we tap into His power, we can bring others from the dark path and point them towards the Savior. We add light to our lives by following in His footsteps. The closer we are to Him, the brighter our light is and the brighter the world around us becomes.
I testify that our Savior, Jesus Christ, lives and that He truly is the “light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”  He gave His life for us, not only to save us from sin, but also to enable us to become like Him. He may be the only one right now who understands what you are going through. Get on your knees and ask for His help. I testify that He has never left your side. He is always there to guide you, strengthen you, empower you, and even carry you if needed. May we heed His invitation: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” 
I love this promise given to us by Elder Neil L. Anderson:
Increasing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will bring you added strength and greater hope. For you, the righteous, the Healer of our souls, in His time and His way, will heal all your wounds. No injustice, no persecution, no trial, no sadness, no heartache, no suffering, no wound—however deep, however wide, however painful—will be excluded from the comfort, peace, and lasting hope of Him whose open arms and whose wounded hands will welcome us back into His presence. 
I testify that Christ is the Master Healer. He is my Redeemer, Savior, and Friend. I testify of the amazing love He has for each of us. He suffered so we would not suffer if we would follow Him. May we invite Him into our lives and allow His healing touch to heal our hearts and souls. May we call upon His mighty power so that we can perform miracles with His help. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Dallin H. Oaks, “Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 2015.
 2 Nephi 25:23.
 See Ether 3.
 David A. Bednar, “Therefore They Hushed Their Fears,” Ensign, May 2015.
 See Doug Thompson, “Living a Celestial Life,” BYUI devotional, May 4, 2021.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2017.
 Alma 7:11–12; emphasis added.
 Lawrence E. Corbridge, “The Way,” Ensign, Nov. 2008.
 Matthew 14:30.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign, Nov. 2016.
 Lloyd D. Newell, “Look for the Light,” Music and the Spoken Word, Apr. 2, 2017.
 Doctrine and Covenants 45:7.
 Matthew 11:28.
 Neil L. Andersen, “Wounded,” Ensign, Nov. 2018.
I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me
Audio of Sahar Qumsiyeh's BYU-Idaho devotional address, spring 2021