As I was reading Alma 42:13-26, I kept thinking about how mercy, justice, and the atonement work in our lives. As is often the case, I tried to find a way that I could really relate it to myself. Here's what I came up with:
Sin is like a self-inflicted wound. Imagine that you've purposely cut yourself. The wound may be small or large, shallow or deep. Whatever the case, you've now got a bleeding wound that needs to be taken care of.
Our first choice is whether or not to even try to take care of it. We can choose to ignore it. Sure, it'll be messy, and possibly even fatal, but it's our choice. Sadly, some people choose this option when sinning and end up in much greater pain, with much more scarring, than they ever needed to experience.
However, if we repent, then we turn to the Healer, who immediately binds up the wound to stop the bleeding, and then goes further and treats the wound in a way that will minimize the time it takes to recover and the amount of pain we will suffer. Again, it's our choice. Sometimes we may hesitate to reveal our self-inflicted wound to someone who can help us because of embarrassment or shame, but it's only by seeking healing that we'll ever receive it.
The laws of nature say that if we don't do anything at all to our wound, we will generally either bleed to death, end up with a nasty infection, or at the very least retain a sizable scar. When we seek mercy/healing, the laws of nature say that our chances are much better for receiving complete healing with much less scarring. Mercy is what enables healing. It doesn't make the laws of nature void, it just minimizes the negative effects.
This also made me think about how the atonement works the same way when we've been wronged and hurt by someone else. Jesus doesn't differentiate between which wounds should be healed- He tenderly binds up ALL wounds. When we've been hurt by someone else, we can make the choice to seek healing and lessen the pain of what's been done. But that has to be a conscious choice. Just like with a self-inflicted wound, we can choose to let these wounds fester and rot, or we can hold them out to the Healer and let Him make us whole again.
I love Jesus and the merciful healing He freely offers me. I have experienced it many times in my life. It is an amazing, humbling, inspiring feeling to have wounds bound up and pain, anger, and turmoil taken away. I know that I would be a much different person living a much different life if it weren't for the atonement of Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and my God.