Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hope in Trials (talk I gave a while ago)

My mom mentioned, she was re-reading her copy of this just the other day. 

Another talk I gave more recently that also dealt with this topic of compensation, made me realize that of all the principles of the gospel, this is the one I have the strongest testimony of. That it doesn't matter how dark, or horrible, or even traumatic life can be, for those who turn to Christ, He will, through His Atonement turn those awful things, to our good, making light, and beauty, and peace. 
To me that IS the atonement
The filth of sin to purity. Crimson to snow. Pain to joy. Hurt to healing. 
All things to our good. I know that to be true.

As intimidating as it was to speak at Stake Conference, it was also such a privileged, especially being given such a tender topic. The whole time I prepared I felt the Lord asking me to comfort His children, to send a message of not only hope but love to them. 

We can have Hope in our Trials, as we Experience the Lord’s Love
Lethbrideg AB West Stake Conference May 1st 2011

Pres. Eyring, as a young church leader, was once told “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”   

I considered that as I prepared this talk.  I don’t know everyone here, but I thought of those of you I do know. And those of you who I know well enough to know of some of your challenges. I thought of how much I love you and admire you.

I thought about how a while ago I was making some calls checking in with friends.
 During those phone calls I found one friend extremely stressed, her husband unable to find work. He’d taken schooling like the Prophets said, had paid tithing faithfully, hadn’t postponed their family, but instead of the home they were dreaming of they, found themselves two week before Christmas moving into a basement suite way too small for their two active boys and a new baby.  

Another friend called me and cried as she described how her brother’s wife had given birth to a beautiful baby girl, but due to complications ending up holding her for only hours, listening to the heart monitor slow, just waiting for her to slip back across the veil she had just left.

And finally, a friend, who’s husband informed her he wouldn’t be blessing their new baby because he’d been lying to her for a year, taking drugs, drinking and looking at pornography, all because he wasn’t sure if he still believed the church was true.
At that point I decided to stop phoning people.

But as I contemplated all my friends very serious situations, there was a common thread. Were they concerned? Of course. Where they frustrated even devastated, yes.
But they were NOT hopeless.

Each of them at some point in our conversation described to me their knowledge that God was in charge, that He loved them and that it would all work out and they would make it through because of their faith in their Savior Jesus Christ and his restored church.

The 34th Pslams says:
15The aeyes of the Lord are upon the brighteous, …
 17The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and adelivereth them out of all their troubles.
 19Many are the aafflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

Deliverance makes me think of trials ending
Yet, none of my friends problems have gone away. But neither has their hope.
Their hope is more than a “finger-crossed” hope. Their hope, like the hope described in the scriptures is more than just having a good attitude.

In Romans 5 we read:
“We glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
“And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Larry Hiller wrote in an Ensign article: As I read…those verses and…the one concept I could not seem to wrap my mind around was how experience fits in the equation. I could understand that tribulation “worketh” (or brings about) patience. Often that’s all we can do in tribulation—have faith and wait patiently upon the Lord. But what is the experience that patience brings about? And how does it result in hope?

To answer that question I would like to share an experience told by Emily Freeman and LDS author tells of her experiences of having her son Josh diagnosed with diabetes. She tells of bringing him home from the hospital and how josh thought that because he’d came home  he was better. “I will never forget “ she describes, “the first day we got home, setting him up on the counter to test him and give him his shots…. "I hate you. I hate this, you don’t’ do this to anyone else in our family. You only do this to me.  I’ll never forget as I gave him his shot Grabbed my cheeks and pinched just as hard as he could and I didn’t stop him because I felt like I was hurting him and he had every right to her me, I‘ll never forget  setting him down  on the floor that day and him run to his room and slamming the door and I sat right their  in the middle of my tile floor and  cried and I thought to myself How would we ever get through. That was a really hard year if I had to choose one word to describe that year the word I would choose is darkness."

"I remember one night, after the whole house was quite. I cried for 2 hours, and I went through a list in my head of everyone that I knew. My parents, my sisters, my husband …my grandmothers, my aunts and people in my ward, my friends my bishop my Releif Society presidency…I kept thinking someone must know how to help me heal , how to get out of this place, …at the end of the two hours nothing--no one."

 "It was at that moment of complete anguish, feeling totally alone that a voice whispered to my heart “Heavenly father knows.” And I knew that was true.  And it was enough."

When we endure tribulation with faith and patience, what we experience, what she experienced that night, is the Savior’s awareness of us and His love for us.
We experience them through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost. And we receive such witnesses after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6)

That is my testimony today that Heavenly Father is there, that He knows.  He not only knows every hairs on our head but every thought IN our head, every feeling in our heart, every pain, every loss. He knows the whole story. He not only knows every sparrow that falls, but every time we fall, and every time we get back up. He knows because He is there.

In the dark of Liberty Jail, even Joseph felt compelled to ask 
 “O God Where art thou? 
And how long? (how often do we just want to know how long we have to last?)

It was pointed out to me in a Sunday school class that God answers the question of "how long" right away. In vs 7, He says “My son, peace be unto thy soul, thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment."

He continues on to teach so many great principles. To remind him of the loyaty of his friends. He uses the scriptural example of Job, he teaches about the power of the priesthood, but he still hasn’t answered the first question. 

He lists unimaginable hardships, ending with even if the "very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The son of Man hath descended below them all. 
Art though greater than he?"

“Hold on thy way”  keep going.

“Thy days are known” there is a plan.

“Fear not “ 
(and here finally is the answer to that initial desperate question:
“ God where art thou?)

“Fear not for God shall be WITH you forever and ever.”

I’m right here.

It will all be okay, 

I’m right here with you.

Not “one day this will be over and you can come and be in Heaven with me, but right now, Joseph, as you suffer in this place and all of it’s darkness, I’m with you right now.  

The Lord could tell Joseph to “stand still and with the utmost assurance [or in other words hope
to see the salvation of God. Why? Because God, and His salvation were there all along.

The Lord told Joseph that “all these things would give him EXPERIENCE”.

In the darkness of a prison Joseph heard the voice of the Lord, and felt of his love. His captors may have separated him from his wife, his family and the church he lead but they could not separate him from his Master.

The Apostle Paul asked, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Paul also wrote (and this is our family scripture)
 “ all things work together for good…to those that LOVE God.”
As we trust God’s love, and love and Trust Him in return, we can have a sure hope in the certainty that all will be put right, all will work out, that the great law of composition through the power of the Atonement will make everything work together for our good.”
Elder Orson F. Whitney said: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. … All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable. … It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.” 

Our Heavenly Father has prepared specific trials for each of our educations.

In Mathew 7:9  Christ asked:
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask abread, will he give him a stone?
Brad Wilcox talks about how sometimes we receive trials and we say ”why did you give me such a stone!”
Many of you know that my son Aaron has Autism, which at times I can be tempted to look at like a “stone” But God---
God only gives bread and I know that Heavenly Father gave Aaron to us, as bread. As we have chosen to look at the difficulties that come along with our son’s disorder as bread- blessings and not as a stone, we are able to focus on what the Lord wants us to learn and become as a result of our experiences.

I have always loved the story of the man in the Martin handcart company, who when others were talking as if the hardships faced by that company were stones, replied:

"I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.' "

" 'I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
" 'Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. 
The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay' "

We all have our own forms of handcarts. 
We have serious and sometimes long lasting struggles that are hard and heavy to push. They are varied and designed specifically for us alone.

But, in the end, the price we will each pay in our individual trials will be a privilege, for we will experience in those moments--- where we were not sure if we could go on, and in those Liberty jail type moments when we ask God Where art thou? We will know in our hearts, He is with us. We will know that He is real, and that He really does know us, that He truly does love us, and that He was THERE all along.

This I testify is true, in the Name of Jesus Christ Amen.

The whole time I wrote this talk this song kept running through my head. I love it.


Liesel said...Best Blogger Tips

I love the quote "The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a priviledge to pay"
I often think I could never have survived being a pioneer when I think of the physical trials (especially when I was pumping gas in the -25 weather), but then I get reminded of the spiritual blessings the pioneers relate.
I'm pretty sure my trials are nothing compared to others but then try to remember to learn something from the trials I am going through.