First, Christ suffered for our sins - hangnails and lost school elections are not sins. I am not 100% bound to the idea that Christ “experienced” every moment of my life in Gethsemane, and I don’t see a need for Him to do so at that particular moment in time either. I believe that He can see the daily events of my life or yours now anytime He needs to, so I agree that it makes no sense to conclude that Christ “lived” every single moment of our individual lives on the last day of His mortality.
Dread, sadness, pain, suffering, loneliness, hunger, shame, rejection, sorrow…all of those emotions Christ suffered before and after Gethsemane…He knows them all intimately - and on a deeper level than any of us ever could. I don’t need Him to feel “MY” sadness, pain, hunger etc to believe that He understands my pain. His personal experiences trump all of mine and I am humbled and in awe that He would still come to my aid and comfort when He endured so much more than I am required to.
Second, the gospel tells us that murderers do not receive forgiveness in this world, nor the world to come. Did Christ suffer for murderers? There’s no way to know. I see absolutely no justice in requiring our perfect and innocent Lord to suffer for those who will later suffer again for the same sins.
To me, the idea of “descending below them all” means no matter what I may suffer in this life, He has endured the deepest pain possible, the fiercest hunger that exists, the darkest evil etc. If I personally experience a trial that is unique to only me and thus no one else has ever felt that way, then He experienced that too.
I also had another thought. “Restitution and/or restoration” are a part of forgiveness (look it up) and there are so many sins that we commit that we are powerless to fully restore or make restitution for. I believe that part of the agony He suffered during the Atonement was absorbing the physical and emotional scars of those we injure through sin. Christ alone can “heal” us all, make us whole again-He takes our burdens and the wounds in our bodies and souls and fills them up again. He makes repairs what was damaged. He restores what existed before.
When we say “He suffered for our sins” - we often think in terms of “Action X= Punishment Z”.
Or in other words…if I commit action “X”, then I deserve punishment “Z” - and we imagine that Christ suffered “punishment Z” for me, so that if I repent, I wouldn’t have to. But what if we’re looking at it wrong? What if “Action X=damage Z” instead? Bare with me here…putting it into words is proving more difficult than I’d hoped.
Let’s say I abuse a child. (Not that I have or ever would, but rather than pointing at another, I will make myself the example here.) Action X (the abuse)= damage Z - emotional wreckage, physical pain, fear, bitterness etc. I fervently and completely repent for my actions to the best of my ability, but I am POWERLESS to restore that child’s emotional health, erase the physical pain, fear, and bitterness that my actions caused. I simply cannot do it. But Christ CAN. At some point in time, Christ can and will “heal” that child (and later adult) that I wounded. (Forgiveness on the part of my victim enters the picture here too, but this discussion is deep enough!)
So…when we say that “Christ suffered for my sins (of child abuse)” it could also mean that in Gethsemane He felt what that child felt during my abuse, so He would know exactly and specifically how to heal that child. He is able to make a full restitution that I am incapable of making, and while I am made to feel guilty and horrible and agonize over my actions during the process of mortal repentance, at some point in the future, that child/person will be made whole and what I damaged will be restored.
For me, this idea opened up a whole new view of the Atonement for me and makes perfect sense if it is accurate. The victim of my actions really WOULD be able to find comfort in the Savior’s atonement because He really would have suffered exactly what they had endured and have a perfect knowledge of their suffering. But, it also means that my Savior might not just have felt “pain” or “punishment” because of my sins (Punishment Z). He might have suffered “Damage Z” (the effects and feelings and sensations of child abuse) because of me.
Maybe these thoughts are old news to you and others, and maybe I’m not expressing them very well in this venue, but rather than trivializing the Atonement (as you suggested) by insinuating that Christ endured my every stubbed toe and hangnail in order for his Atonement to be “personal and individual” to me, it made the Atonement humbling and horrific and amazingly personal to imagine causing my Lord and Savior to suffer as if I had committed my sins TO Him and ON Him and TOWARDS Him instead of myself and others…
Comment #50 by quin - The Totality of Mortality (Times & Seasons)