“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“God is mindful of your problems.”

“Your trials will only make you stronger.”

“Blessings will come.”

These remarks have provided comfort to many in their most trying moments. But what if these words that once brought us peace and comfort no longer seem to work?

In the Book of Mark, we read the story of Jesus and His disciples crossing the sea in a ship. A storm and fierce winds raged, so strong that His disciples feared for their lives. They woke the Savior and asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Jesus then arose and calmed the storm.

In this story, I can’t help but wonder if the disciples’ reaction to the storm would have been any different if Jesus had been awake with them. Would the winds have been any less strong? No. Would the storm have been any less fierce? No. But perhaps, it would have been more comforting knowing that Jesus Christ was awake with them—ever watchful and aware of their situation.

During these times when trials are raging and rocking our ships from all directions, do you sometimes feel that the Lord is with you in the ship but is sound asleep? Do you sometimes echo the disciples’ cry for help, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”

When you feel overwhelmed by problems, simply knowing that Jesus Christ is the Savior and that He lives can sometimes feel not enough. We can have the knowledge that He exists but how can we feel that He is awake with us as we travel through the raging storms of life? How can we feel that He is present and aware of the trials that we are going through?

We can follow the frequent counsel from the Lord’s prophets to build and strengthen our relationship with the Savior. It may seem an abstract concept to build a relationship with someone we can’t physically see, touch, or feel, but if we apply some practical approaches that help us build and strengthen our relationships with loved ones here on Earth, it is possible to have a personal connection and relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ.

First, spend time with Him. This may seem like an odd suggestion but hear me out first. One of my most humbling experiences spending time with the Savior was when I read the accounts of His life in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I call it ‘walking a mile in His shoes’. When I read how He healed a man with palsy, caused a blind man to see, raised Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter from the dead, fed five thousand people, healed a woman with an issue of blood, forgave an adulterous woman, built a strong relationship with His apostles and disciples, and many other accounts of His mortal life, I came to a deeper understanding of His character traits.

I learned that He forgives those who are repentant, that He can make something more of what little we can offer, that little children are precious in His eyes, that He can lovingly but firmly chasten those that choose to disobey Him, that He can teach and transform sinners to declare His gospel like that woman in Samaria, that He cares deeply for His mortal parents, that His love for us is so vast and unconditional that He willingly suffered persecution, endured unspeakable agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and died on the cross so we can be forgiven of our sins and receive the comfort and help that we need during our trials.

That’s right. His sacrifice wasn’t solely about saving us from sin but also so He could experience our sadness, disappointments, loss, failure, and all forms of brokenness and trials that we may experience. He did this so He would know how to help us and make us whole.

I wasn’t there two thousand years ago when all these events happened, but reading these accounts took me on a journey with Jesus Christ and helped me understand Him more not only as a Savior and Healer but also as a brother and friend.

Because of this personal experience, I learned to talk to Him just like I would talk to a very close friend—no barriers, no judgments involved, no concern that He would love me less or see me differently, and no fear that He would punish me for not trying hard enough to become perfect.

Spending time with the Savior through the scriptures and daily personal prayer helped my relationship with Him to become more real and personal, just like the precious relationships that I have with my family and loved ones.

Second, recognize how He shows His love to you personally. Just as with any other relationships that we have, we must recognize our preferred ways in which we express love to and receive love from other people. Many people call it their ‘love language’.

If we take the time to ponder the ways that He answers our questions, comforts us through our trials, and increases our understanding, we will recognize that He does all these things in ways that we feel most loved.

I have learned through the years that ‘words of affirmation’ is the love language that I appreciate the most. As I recounted many experiences when I felt the Savior’s outpouring of love for me, I realized that it’s always been through words of affirmation coming from my family, spouse, friends, strangers, poets, authors, ancient and latter-day prophets, quotes on social media, stories in the scriptures that I can relate to, lyrics of songs, and distinct thoughts that come to my mind when I need answers, comfort, and guidance.

He shows me love in so many other ways but because He knows me personally, many times He shows me love in the way that I receive love best. This has proven to me time and time again that I have a personal and meaningful relationship with Him.

These two steps have helped me build and strengthen my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. It was not easy. It required consistent, often repetitive, efforts to spend time with the Savior, getting to know Him better through the scriptures and my personal experiences, conversing with Him in prayer and meditation, and recognizing how He’s giving me love and guidance .

Because of my relationship with Him, I always feel that He is awake with me in the ship while I sail through the storms in my life. I feel that He is ever-present, knowing what fierce winds and big waves are rocking my ship from left to right. I no longer wonder if he cares not that I perish because my faith is no longer dependent on the outcome that I am hoping to receive. My faith is fully dependent on the knowledge that He can calm the wind and the sea if He wills it.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the many trials of life. I still feel disappointment, sadness, even restlessness when things seem to be out of control. Who doesn’t? However, knowing that the Savior is truly aware of my trials eases my worries and gives me comfort and peace.

You too can receive this personal witness by building a personal relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ.

If you would like to learn about Heavenly Father, read this article.