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