Only five more days until the 184th Semiannual General Conference! In preparation, today’s inspirational message is about mountains, trials, despair and prayer. I have a story to tell, and there’s a sweet new song I think you’re gonna wanna hear.
It’s been one year this month since Daughter A. returned home from her full-time LDS mission after serving for seven wonderful months. She loved her mission, and her mission loved her. Our family loved her weekly inspirational emails. I loved being a “Missionary Mom”. Everything was great…until it suddenly wasn’t. It was a sad day for everyone when we got the unexpected call that due to serious illness, Sister A was being sent home for medical treatment. We had 48 hours notice. Two hours after we picked her up from the airport she was honorably released from her mission service. At that point, it felt like we all “fell down the rabbit hole”. We found ourselves wandering around in a very strange and surreal world where everything was off-kilter, unfamiliar and uncertain. There was no road-map or directions for how to proceed with our new circumstances. And, that was just the beginning!
The past 12 months we have been navigating ourselves along a road we definitely never expected or wanted to travel. It’s been a very emotional, long, confusing, heart-wrenching, exhausting journey. At times exhilarating & faith-filled, at other times tragic & sad, often hopeful, always unrelenting, and definitely epic.
We’ve spent days and weeks and months in the hospital, in the ER, in doctors offices, clinics, and rehabilitation units, or in the car driving to and fro. We’ve sought out countless specialists, tried different treatment options; including traditional, holistic and non-traditional approaches. We’ve filled prescriptions, kept long lists of notes, studied medical books and researched PUBMed clinical abstracts (with a dictionary nearby for “translation”!). We’ve made hundreds of phone calls, written countless emails. We’ve consulted with lawyers. We’ve battled with Insurance Companies. We’ve stared at piles of bills. This is all the kind of “fun stuff” that people & their caregivers do while suffering with/through a serious illness (especially a rare or unknown kind).
Most of all, we’ve prayed.
We’ve prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed… and then we prayed some more.
We’ve said many different kinds of prayers. Pleading. Begging. Reasoning. Lecturing. Yelling. Crying. Bargaining. Grieving. Apologizing. Accepting. Thanking… In no particular order.
We’ve always prayed for her to be healed. We continue to pray for her to be healed. But, along the way, we gradually started to “let go” of the “timeline” we set for God to accomplish the healing. Then, we let go of our definition of what “healed” would look like. Then, we “let go” of other worries and expectations one by one. We never let go of hope or faith. We believe that she and life in general will continue to get better.
Despite all of our effort exercising that “mighty faith as a mustard seed” the scriptures talk about, the Mountain we wanted so desperately to move, didn’t budge. [Or…perhaps it was/is moving…just totally imperceptibly?!]
We’re people of faith. We believe in a loving God. So, what’s He up to? What’s this all about?! How do we move forward with life when we have no answers about the future? Are all these prayers “getting through”? Or, are they dropped calls? Is He really still there? Is He really still listening? Does He know what’s happening? Is this all part of His plan?
Elder Richard G. Scott taught the following about trials and prayer:
When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God.
- What am I to do?
- What am I to learn from this experience?
- What am I to change?
- Whom am I to help?
- How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?
A willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.
– Elder Richard G. Scott, Trust In The Lord, General Conference, Oct. 1995
Today, our daughter is not “healed” in the way that we imagined by now. But, she has improved in many significant ways that we are thankful for. Even though her physical body struggles, her spiritual strength is strong, her mind is clear, her empathy is vast. We focus on the good days. Our family has received countless tender mercies, blessings and miracles. We are grateful when people still remember and ask about her (after a year, not too many do anymore). Sometimes someone does a random act of kindness, and it’s so appreciated! We know that we are probably still only in the middle (or maybe even the beginning?) of this journey. So, we are learning to keep praying for what we want, but to always add “Thy Will Be Done”. We are learning to trust that God’s Will is actually better than Our Will. (Even when it doesn’t make any sense)
If things are hard for you today, and your prayers seem to be unheard or unanswered, please hold on! You are loved. You are not alone. God lives. There IS a reason for whatever you’re going through, even if you don’t know what it is right now. If our mountain does not move, then perhaps we are meant to climb over it, and God will give us the strength. I really believe that He has all of the answers, but they’re only on a “need to know” basis, and apparently most of the time we don’t need to know.
We just need to trust.
This brings us to the new Country-Western music video called “That Mountain” by Charley Jenkins – (a very talented man, who also happens to be a Mormon). To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Country Western music. I don’t hate it, I just don’t choose to listen to it very often. But, I do choose good singers and good songs, and this video has both. (plus it made me cry)
Enjoy. – MoSop
“It is our hope that this song will do what it was designed to do and cause anyone of any faith that believes in the principle of prayer and a higher power to look at answered and un-answered prayer with a deeper and broader perspective. And we also hope this song in some way brings peace to those who are struggling to understand the “why” in this life. – Charley Jenkins
General Conference will be broadcast LIVE and tape delayed from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday and Sunday, October 4 and 5, 2014. Check out a list of options to see Conference HERE.
Thank you for this count down series of blurbs to the Semi-Annual Conference. Todays statement of faith is supportive and helpful. Know that you have a United Methodist retired pastor praying for you, Daughter A, and your family as you live day to day with her illness.
GW Bill Warren
Hello Pastor Bill, it’s so great to hear from you!
Thank you for reading my blog. Your kind words and prayers are very much appreciated & mean the world.
I hope you’ll be able to watch some of the Conference. You’ll love it!
“We’re told that we only need a mustard-seed-sized bit of faith. Can When we pray as parents for our children, we really can alter the course of their lives through our prayers and faith. That is real power. That is real faith—the ability to move mountains, no matter how big or how in the way they are. We’re told that we only need a mustard-seed-sized bit of faith. Can you imagine what we could accomplish together? Could we not as a whole group of believers gather together that much faith? If we did, could we not then move a mountain? Or something simpler, like saving a person who is dying of an illness, healing a sick loved one, casting a protection over a child who may be in danger, or even saving a fat old guy from dying in Lake Powell? Call me Pollyanna—I just don’t care. I think we could do it. Can you imagine if all Christians everywhere came together for one day to pray with faith? What would we accomplish? Is there any mountain we could not move? I think not.”
Scotty Halls, Walking on Water: One Man’s Story of Miracles.
Thanks Jaxon. Good thoughts to ponder. I definitely do believe in the power of a parent’s prayers and the power of people of faith uniting their prayers. (very powerful!)
Thank you what a wonderful song! The words are a reminder that it is easy to forget as we focus on our little piece of the vineyard. [Granddaughter A] we love you, we pray for you and we ask God to accept our continued service in the mission field and use it to bless you! Love, Grandma and Grandpa
Thank you! We love you and your mission service is a tremendous blessing to all of us! ❤
I don’t always comment, but I always read your blogs. I look forward to them, because I know I’m going to be encouraged and have my faith built up. I’m sorry to hear that Sister A. hasn’t had a full recovery, I’ve been praying for her too. I’ve also been going through a health issue of my own. As you have, I’ve been praying for healing and to be restored to normal. One day God spoke to my heart and said you are normal, this is just a new normal. It’s not what I would have wanted to hear, but it helped me to cope when I realized that what we see as “normal” isn’t necessarily what God considers normal. We each have our cross to bear, as the saying goes, but sometimes we’d rather not have to bear it. Peace comes when we accept God’s will and figure out a way to live our lives in the new normal. God bless you and Sister A. Her faith and example is an inspiration to us all.
The song is beautiful and made me cry too. But it felt good.
Thank you for sharing your comment Lynne, I always love hearing from you. I am truly sorry for the pain and cross you are bearing. I think it’s worth saying and reminding ourselves that we truly are not meant to bear these burdens alone. Our Savior loves us totally and completely, and He often uses our hands to be his hands and voices to hug and help and encourage and reach out. There’s a brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind that’s very powerful and real. I love when we can be brave enough to talk about our struggles and our faith, and make those human connections. ❤ sending love and prayers to you
Reblogged this on Pocketful of Joy and commented:
Because I have similar health issues, this post really resonates with me. All I can say is that my faith has grown, as well, and in the end, as always, it is in our Heavenly Father’s hands. We simply (not easily) have to exercise our faith.
Which is what my blog is all about…how faith, hope, and love leads us to the joy that God wants us all to carry with us.
I’m not there yet, but I’m farther along on the path than I was two years ago when I took my first conscious step toward joy.
Thanks for sharing Betty!
What an inspiring story!! It makes our trials seem so insignificant! Thank you for sharing. We pray that your daughter and your family will be blessed with courage and faith to be able to get through this enormous trial!
Thank you Helen!
Your message is so powerful to me right now. It’s been several years of continuous prayers in every possible way, and still the mountain remains (as far as my eyes can see). You have given me so much hope and strength to hold on and keep trusting God. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I pray for your daughter, family and all those involved in this struggle. I agree with everything you said, we do have to let go, and allow the Lord to work in ways we are unable to comprehend. I’m gonna use this beautiful song, with such a powerful message in my lesson today.
Thank you Shirley for your kind words. I hope your lesson went well.