I believe there are many pivotal moments in our lives that bring us to the understanding of how fragile the string tying us to this life truly is.
I have been forced many times over this past year to think of my own life and my life after. It is painful to go there. It is heartbreaking to think of what I would leave behind. Am I afraid to die? No. I know where I am going and whom I will be with. But it pains me beyond belief to think of those I love, left behind to pick of the pieces, make sense of them and slowly carry on with their lives that lay ahead. All of the “what” and “what if” questions plague me.
Sadly, on Friday, this fragility was snapped back into focus as one of our good friends passed on. He was injured in a tragic accident and has left his beautiful wife and their four, young, sweet little ones to sort through these pieces of their own life.
My heart is so heavy and broken for my friend and the families touched by this accident. I was able to visit with her for a while yesterday, and to say the least, she is still as amazing as she has always been. We found some moments to laugh together and remember, and other moments to fall apart... The weight of this world now rests upon her shoulders. And though, in our trials we are never alone, it is completely normal to be aware of this weight we will now carry.
In feelings of desperation for answers today and reading from many different talks from the leaders of our church, I came across this one, appropriately named. I found much comfort in its words. So I want to share it with you.
“Why do we have trials?”
“I have often pondered, Why is it that the Son of God and His holy prophets and all the faithful Saints have trials and tribulations, even when they are trying to do Heavenly Father’s will?” Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “Why is it so hard, especially for them? … Why such terrible tribulation? To what end? For what purpose?”
Elder Hales answered those questions in his October 2011 general conference address, saying, “As we ask these questions, we realize that the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we ‘wait upon the Lord.’”
Waiting upon the Lord
“Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, ‘all these things shall [be for our] experience, and … [our] good’ (D&C 122:7).
“Does this mean we will always understand our challenges? Won’t all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, ‘O God, where art thou?’ Yes! When a spouse dies, a companion will wonder. When financial hardship befalls a family, a father will ask. Yes, ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ (Proverbs 30:5). Then, in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord, saying, ‘Thy will be done.’”
Elder Hales spoke of what it means to wait upon the Lord, noting that in the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, anticipate, and trust.
“To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end,” Elder Hales said.
As K crawled up onto her Mom’s lap and we looked through pictures, my heart shattered. Not only for her, but also for me. How could my own children possibly understand the gravity of life’s situations should our life face this same challenge? How do you help them to understand? How do you help to ease that pain in their little eyes?
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that understanding Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness is the key to learning to wait upon the Lord.
“Among the most frequently asked questions of Church leaders are, Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people? Why are those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service not immune from such tragedies?”
Although we do not know all the answers, Elder Cook said, we do know the important principles that allow those facing tragedies to face them with faith and confidence in the future.
We have to have faith in our future. And faith in our Heavenly Father’s plan for us. We have to “believe, trust, and align our lives so that we will understand our true eternal worth... and be worthy of the precious blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for us.” (You matter to Him. President Ucthdorf October 2011)
Principles of Faith
“First,” he said, “we have a Father in Heaven, who knows and loves us personally and understands our suffering perfectly.
“Second, His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer, whose Atonement not only provides for salvation and exaltation but also will compensate for all the unfairness of life.
“Third, the Father’s plan of happiness for His children includes not only a premortal and mortal life but also an eternal life as well, including a great and glorious reunion with those we have lost. All wrongs will be righted, and we will see with perfect clarity and faultless perspective and understanding.”
“There are many kinds of challenges. Some give us necessary experiences. Adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our Father in Heaven’s overall plan. The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God.”
There is much comfort knowing that through this gospel, our families are forever. That through our brother Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice we can all attain this glorious gift and that the wrongs in our lives will be righted.
Continue in Patience
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency spoke of the blessings of patience and trusting in the Lord’s timing.
“The children of Israel waited 40 years in the wilderness before they could enter the promised land. Jacob waited 7 long years for Rachel. The Jews waited 70 years in Babylon before they could return to rebuild the temple. The Nephites waited for a sign of Christ’s birth, even knowing that if the sign did not come, they would perish. Joseph Smith’s trials in Liberty Jail caused even the prophet of God to wonder, ‘How long?’
“In each case, Heavenly Father had a purpose in requiring that His children wait.”
I can testify to you that although it is not easy to have patience in our Heavenly Father’s plan, many blessings and small miracles are brought forth to us in our greatest times of need. We are not forgotten. We are not alone.
Called to Wait
“Every one of us is called to wait in our own way,” President Uchtdorf continued. “We wait for answers to prayers. We wait for things which at the time may appear so right and so good to us that we can’t possibly imagine why Heavenly Father would delay the answer.”
“[Some] answers [don’t] come immediately. [Although] God’s promises are not always fulfilled as quickly as or in the way we might hope; they come according to His timing and in His ways. I know for sure that the promises of the Lord, if perhaps not always swift, are always certain.”
As we know, there are going to be dark days ahead for my friend and her children. She will ask these questions herself... just as I have and still do at times. But I know she will find comfort in the words of the scriptures and the words of our prophet and all the other leaders of our Church. I know she will not be alone and that the Lord’s angels will encircle her, lift her and carry her through when she has nothing left to go on. I know she will be blessed far beyond measure.
As I asked earlier, please pray for her and their little ones. Pray for S’s parents and all those in mourning. The power of prayer is an amazing force and blessing to those lives to which it is applied.
May God bless your lives always. May you also find peace during your times of trials and know that these blessings are available to you if you but have faith.