I gave the following talk last August after we had been in the hospital with Jared for almost a month.
Given recent life events, both shared and unshared, I have felt in the depths of despair and was prompted to reread this talk. Remembering the times when our faith cups are full is key, I think, to enduring well the times when that same cup seems a bit lacking in the fullness department.
And since I am out of cute puppy pictures to post, I thought I would repost this talk as well.
Just skip it, if you remember reading it last August or if your life is just hunky dory and you have no reason to be reminded about how trials are good for us.
Just keep checking back now and then and the hilarious, entertaining old me may return. I hope so, no one misses her more than me.
Enduring Well Trials and Adversity
In my favorite hymn, "How Firm a Foundation", verse two states:
In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
The last week of June, Jared was sick with a pain in his right leg and some flu like symptoms. Seven hours at urgent care diagnosed him with a sprained muscle and the flu. We went home with crutches and ibuprofen.
Four days later, he was much sicker. We went back to urgent care. When we first arrived there, his blood pressure was 63/40. He was quickly transported to UMC. Soon it was determined that he had septic shock, or blood poisoning due to a staff infection. Surgery was performed that night to remove his appendix, but this proved to be perfectly healthy. His appendix, was not the cause of his infection.
After a day of heroic efforts to keep his heart going, it was discovered, that he had a pocket of infection in his right hip. Surgery was performed that night, to drain the infection.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
Spencer W. Kimball said: "Patience in suffering cleanses the soul. I’m grateful that my priesthood power is limited and used as the Lord sees fit to use it. I don’t want to heal all the sick...for sickness sometimes is a great blessing. People become angels through sickness."
Before we left for the hospital, Jared received a blessing. In that blessing Marion, promised Jared that the doctors would be able to find out what was wrong. There was a tangible feeling of peace and comfort. I was very concerned and worried about him, and yet I felt that things would be OK. What a blessing the priesthood is in our lives and the Comforter has value beyond measure.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
Neal A. Maxwell said: "Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us and do so in ways which sanctify these experiences for our good."
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
In the next two days, Jared would go through two more surgeries to remove more pockets of infection. During this time, he was asleep, as machines worked to pump his heart and breathe for him, so his body could fight the infection.
George Q. Cannon said: "I know that everything will be overruled for our good if we do right. No matter how difficult circumstances may be to bear at the time, they are for our good and God watches over us; His angels are round about us all the time."
I truly felt this, at this difficult time at the hospital. So many people were praying for us, I know this made a huge impact on how we managed to cope with such a frightening experience. Truly I felt ward members reaching out to help bear my burden. Dinners were brought, my house was cleaned, cards received, and calls of support all made such a difference. I am so grateful for my ward family who were here to help, when my immediate family were so far away.
Robert D. Hales said: "We are taught in the scriptures that there must be opposition in all things. It is not a question of if we are ready for the tests; it is a matter of when. We must prepare to be ready for tests that will present themselves without warning."
We have a tradition at our house each Christmas of putting together puzzles. I absolutely love the thrill of taking a huge pile of pieces and figuring out how they all go together to make a beautiful picture. My kids hate it when I do puzzles because they ask me to help them with something, and I say just let me find one more piece.
One of the things that helps the most in putting puzzles together is the box with the finished picture on it. Sometimes you pick up a piece and have no idea where it goes or even what it is and when you look at the box you can see exactly where it fits with the rest of the pieces.
Sometimes when we are faced with trials, we wonder how do all the pieces fit together? How can we possibly squeeze in everything that our demanding lives require of us? What do we do when life throws us a curve ball that we weren’t expecting or planning for?
One answer can be found in Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
We can trust in the Lord because he is holding the box, he sees the big picture. When we can’t figure out how a piece of our lives will fit, we can listen to the Lord. He can direct us so that the pieces all fit together the way the Lord has planned for each of us. Sometimes, the pieces look more similar and we can only see the approximate location of a certain piece. Still the Lord in his infinite wisdom knows exactly where each piece will fit.
Alma said "for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day."
John Taylor said: "In relation to events that will yet take place, and the kind of trials, troubles, and sufferings which we shall have to cope with, it is to me a matter of very little moment; these things are in the hands of God, he dictates the affairs of the human family, and directs and controls our affairs; and the great thing that we, as a people, have to do is seek after and cleave unto our God, to be in close affinity with him, and to seek for his guidance, and his blessing and Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the right path. Then it matters not what it is nor who it is that we have to contend with, God will give us strength according to our day."
E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.
After 10 days on the ventilator, Jared was doing well enough to breathe on his own again. He was getting stronger each day. It seemed that the Lord still had a work for him to do on this side of the veil. But he was still very sick, and just as we were about to be sent home, the doctors found yet another pocket of infection. So Jared had a fifth surgery to drain that infection as well.
Heber C. Kimball said: "Let me say to you, that many of you will see the time when you will have all the trouble, trial, and persecution that you can stand, and plenty of opportunities to show that you are true to God and his work. This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with victory. To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not till you obtain it."
He also said: "Trials gave saints the opportunities to prove themselves worthy of eternal blessings by showing their commitment to God and His kingdom."
Spencer W. Kimball said: "Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery."
In addition, Boyd K Packer said: "You fail to understand that the challenge comes not as an army against the Church, but as the adversary against your individual testimony."
One of my favorite Old Testament stories is that of Shadrach, Mishach, and Abindigo. They had their testimonies and faith put to the ultimate test, when they were unwilling to bow down to a false God. The King then ordered them put into a fiery furnace.
This was their response to the King: "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King""But if not, be known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)
Dennis Simmons gave a wonderful conference talk about these three young men. He said : "They knew that they could trust God-even if things didn’t turn out the way they hoped. They knew that faith is more than mental assent, more than an acknowledgment that God lives. Faith is total trust in Him."
"Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him."
"Men accomplish marvelous things by trusting in the Lord and keeping His commandments—by exercising faith even when they don’t know how the Lord is shaping them."
"We must have the same faith and trust as Shadrach, Meshack, and Adenego. Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution, but if not....He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear, but if not....Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity, but if not...He will deliver us from death or impairment of loved ones, but if not, ....we will trust in the Lord."
"Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not... He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not...We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not,...we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has."
Howard W. Hunter said: "I promise you tonight in the name of the Lord whose servant I am, that God will always protect and care for his people."
James E Faust had this to say about trials: "It is my testimony that we are facing difficult times. We must be courageously obedient. My witness is that we will be called upon to prove our spiritual stamina, for the days ahead will be filled with affliction and difficulty. As the pioneers had the larger vision in their daily challenge for survival, so also we need to have a greater vision and understanding of our eternal destiny. Our challenges are more subtle but equally hard. Maintaining our spiritual strength is also a daily challenge. The greatest source of that spiritual strength comes, as it did in their time, from our temples."
I find it interesting that Pres Faust says that our challenges are different, yet equally hard as the pioneers. We must do all we can to maintain and increase our spiritual stamina, especially in times when we are not facing trials, so that when trials come unexpectedly, we will be strong enough to endure them.
As we watch athletes in the Olympics compete, we can see how much training they have put into being ready for this competition. You must train in advance, you can not just show up and expect peak performance from your body. It is the same for our spiritual training. We must prepare for the trials and challenges we know are to come.
Dallin H. Oaks said at a BYU devotional "Indeed, we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing."
Sometimes we want a piece of the puzzle to fit right now, when really it can not be put into place until the other pieces around it are put together.
I love this quote from C. S. Lewis said that Marvin J. Ashton used in a conference talk:
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of...throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace."
Elder Scott said "Trust in God no matter how challenging the circumstance....Your peace of mind, your assurance of answers to vexing problems, your ultimate joy depend upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ."
Robert D. Hales said: "There is nothing that we are enduring that Jesus does not understand, and He waits for us to go to our Heavenly Father in prayer. I testify that if we will be obedient and if we are diligent, our prayers will be answered, our problems will diminish, our fears will dissipate, light will come upon us, the darkness of despair will be dispersed, and we will be close to the Lord and feel of His love and of the comfort of the Holy Ghost."
Elder Craig Zwick said in conference 2003 "It is the wounded Christ who leads us through our moments of difficulty. It is He who bears us up when we need more air to breathe or direction to follow or even more courage to continue. Trust in His promise of eternal life and allow peace and hope to distill upon you."
I can honestly say that this happened to me, as I sat for hours in the hospital. I felt the Saviour close to me, and even holding me up at times when I didn’t think I could stand one more minute.
Spencer W. Kimball said: "If all sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith...There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, only satanic controls."
It is part of the plan that we suffer and experience both sickness and health.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
Finally, just over a week ago, after 18 days in the ICU, and 25 days total in the hospital, Jared came home. He is continuing to recover and regain his strength back.
When we tell his story to any one, the first question almost unfailingly is "How did this happen?" The answer is we do not exactly know what caused the infection. It seems inconceivable that a young, strong healthy kid could be swimming in a lake at scout camp, and two weeks later be fighting for his life in the hospital.
Spencer W Kimball had this to say "Answer, if you can, I cannot, for though I know God has a major role in our lives, I do not know how much He causes to happen and how much He merely permits. What ever the answer to this question, there is another I feel sure about. Could the Lord have prevented these tragedies? The answer is Yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed us, protect us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from death, if He will. But He will not."
Through it all, I felt strengthened and supported by the prayers of family and friends. I know that Jared is doing well today thanks to the faith of so many, and the will of the Lord.
Neal A. Maxwell advised: "All crosses are easier to carry when we keep moving."
And Mary Ellen Edmonds suggested: "At night I turn over all my problems to Heavenly Father. He’s going to be up all night anyway."
I know that each of us will be called upon to endure trials and adversity, and through faith and hope, we can withstand all that life is ready to throw at us.
Jeffrey R Holland said: "Only on His triumphant shoulders can we ride to celestial glory if we will but choose through our faithfulness to do so."
I bare you my testimony that I know that the Lord lives and watches over each of us. Even when we are going through difficult trials, He is there for us to lean on for support and understanding. Not only those on earth helped me through this difficult time, but I have not doubt that many of my deceased family members were there strengthening me at some of the most trying times. I am so grateful for my membership in this church. I can not imagine life with out it.
Also my appreciation for the Holy Ghost has increased. I think I often take for granted, His constant companionship and comfort. And of course my gratitude to my Heavenly Father and the Saviour, for I felt their sustaining love. I know that Heavenly Father will not leave us to face our challenges alone. Ask him to help you solve the puzzles in your life and he will help you put the pieces together so that your final picture looks like exaltation.
It is interesting that when I gave this talk, I thought that the trial was almost over. Now four months later, I am almost shocked to see that it has gone on this long. I suppose sometimes it is good to not know how long a trial will last.
Reading these words gave my faith a much needed shot in the arm. It was looking a bit puny this week. Things will get better. I will get through this and live to face the next hard thing in this life. So here's clinging to the hope that it is sooner than later.