Archive for March, 2011

One day to be weak.

Haley seems to have it all together from the outside. Friendly and talkative to those she firsts meets as well as those she’s been long acquainted with. Many praise her for the accomplishments of what appears to be hard work and dedication. Generally a happy, easy-going brunette, Haley continues day to day with the same facade and typical results. All is well in the life of Haley Stevenson. Of course, she isn’t as confident in her abilities as she leads on. A constant battle seems to occupy the mind and Haley quickly becomes tired of the rollercoaster ride from brave and courageous to doubtful and paralyzed. One day, unable to overcome her fears, she gives in. “Let me have this one day to be weak,” is the plea that escapes her and makes its way heavenward. What could be so harmful in not pushing forward for one day?

Reflecting upon this question later, the realization and answer comes. Consistency is everything. It only takes one small moment for the adversary to sneak in and begin his deceitful attacks at righteous desires. An example can be found in the Book of Mormon with Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Their actions lead many people away because they provided that opportunity for Satan to enter the hearts of the righteous, “…giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them” (Mosiah 27:9). Diligence is required of the followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.

In the scriptures, continual exhortation is given as a requirement to act in all diligence. The blessings as well are mentioned of faithful, continual obedience. Moroni 9:6 reads, “…let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.” As always, Christ is the perfect example of not having one day to be weak. He was tempted, tried, persecuted, and confronted by many yet He never gave in. Even when suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, He pleaded as well with the Father to let the cup pass from Him; nevertheless, He did the Father’s will and drank that bitter cup. President Henry B. Eyring in his general conference talk referred to the example of Christ. He says “When I find myself drawn away from my priesthood duties by other interests and when my body begs for rest, I give to myself this rallying cry: “Remember Him.” The Lord is our perfect example of diligence…”

Doctrine and Coventants 6:13 states the blessings of consistency: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.”

Closing with a quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland, “Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”

Living With Cancer

The words replayed again and again in my mind as we left the hospital. My eyes glanced from person to person, coming and going, as I wondered what news they had each been given and the new trials that lay ahead of them. For one, “Living with cancer,” printed on the front of a pamphlet said it all. Earlier that sunny morning, my companion and I received a call to visit a certain sister in the hospital. We were not given any details of why she was there. Our only tasks was to bring a Book of Mormon and other LDS reading materials for the resident of room number 4473. A short visit, a quick but earnest prayer and we were on our way back home.

According to Pub Med Health Website, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cells are the building blocks of living things. Cancer grows out of normal cells in the body. Normal cells multiply when the body needs them, and die when the body doesn’t need them. Cancer appears to occur when the growth of cells in the body is out of control and cells divide too quickly. It can also occur when cells forget how to die. The website goes on to explain the possible causes, symptoms, signs, tests, treatment, expectations, complications, etc. The title of the pamphlet in the hands of her son explain the seriousness of the news. Cancer requires changing ones lifestyle to endure the battle ahead.

Living with cancer…it is possible to continue with life. Changes are required but one is not without hope as they face their new condition. Becoming more and more common among mankind, cancers affect is practically everywhere, bleeding into homes, families, altering emotional and physical conditions. Cancer leaves lasting scars upon each life it touches. Rarely is anyone untouched by cancer in some aspect, directly or indirectly. Many face the probability of dealing with cancer, but we are all living with a lethal type of spiritual cancer. Sin, mistakes, weaknesses. No person is without them. Spiritual cancer has symptoms, causes, expectations and complications  as well; however, treatment is more powerful, lasting, and guaranteed. Christ suffered for all of our smallest mistakes to our most serious sins. It is because of His sacrifice and suffering that we can conquer spiritual cancer. He is our Savior, Redeemer, and chemotherapy. We don’t need the pamphlet, “Living with Spiritual Cancer.”

With application of Christ’s atonement, we can be in remission the rest of our days if we are willing to make certain lifelong changes. How grateful I am because of the hope my Savior gives me to be free of the deadly spiritual cancer I’ve struggled with in my life. I know that with sincere repentance, we all can be forgiven of our pasts, no matter how severe the cancerous cells or how late it is caught. With God, there is no such thing as past the point of no return. His arms are forever stretched outward, waiting patiently for us to humble ourselves before him and take his scarred hands. Don’t try to live with spiritual cancer. Let Christ be your constant chemotherapy!

I Hid My Face From Thee

Somewhat of a disturbing image to use as a reminder. I saw this picture in the September 2010 ensign and thought of how it relates to our Heavenly Father and His role in our life. This beautiful baby girl cries out in pain, with questioning eyes that ask “Why would you do such a thing to me?” From her perspective, the person administering the shot is cruel, heartless, hurtful. She doesn’t understand the purpose this shot will have later on in life. Discomfort is short in the big picture of her life while the benefits continue much longer. So it is with our lives and eternity. God has given all men trials that seem cruel, heartless, hurtful. Often wondering “Why would you do such a thing to me?,” one can look to God with pleading, pondering eyes. Some don’t realize how the “small” moments of pain or struggle will affect them further down the rocky road of life. God can see the full picture, even into the eternities.
I love this song (written with a scripture from Isaiah and the revelation Joseph Smith received during Liberty Jail) because of how well it portrays God’s mercy, kindness and constant love.  For a little while, He might forsaken us or hide His face from us to let us learn, grow and stretch. But He will always gather us beneath His wings with the endless care that He has. I testify God really knows our every thought and every care. He is with us! Please know my brothers and sisters, His kindness truly shall not depart from thee. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for us, God can apply mercy,  welcome us into his presence and fulfill his eternal promises. So hold on thy way. Even if the very jaws of hell gape open after us, it shall be for our good. He will not leave us comfort-less. He will come to us, to our rescue! (John 14:18)

Who did sin?

Many wonder this common and mostly unanswered question at some point in their lives: “why do bad things happen to good people?” Trials and challenges and suffering are simply part of this life, we will all be faced with difficult, if not seemingly impossible, circumstances and understandably wonder “why me? What have I done to deserve this?” a similar question was asked of Christ. In John 9: 2-3 it reads:

2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, thisaman, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the aworks of God should be made bmanifest in him.

Once again, lets define manifest so we can better comprehend Christ’s answer. Manifest is to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; to show plainly to put beyond doubt or question. Synonyms include obvious, apparent, unmistakable. So are the struggles or times of hardship in our lives. They become opportunities of growth, to prove to ourselves and to God that we can and will turn to our Savior for strength to overcome and conquer stumbling blocks placed in our path. I know for myself, as well as others, that times of great struggles or suffering comes the greatest growth, understanding, and strength. Like President Harold B. Lee explains, ” sometimes when [we] are going through the most severetests, [we] will be nearer to God than [we] have any idea.”

Elder Richard G. Scott also explains how God loves us perfectly and “would not require [us] to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for our personal benefit,” (Learning through life’s trials).

Joseph Smith’s incarceration in Liberty Jail is a wonderful example of what can happen when we trust in God during times of opposition. Better explained in Elder Jeffery R. Holland’s talk, “Lessons Learned from Liberty Jail,” the Prophet Joseph’s experience teaches that “you can have sacred revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in any situation [even] in the most miserable experiences of your life.” Elder Holland continues, “everyone, including, and perhaps especially, the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. When that happens we can sometimes fear that God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he cried from the depth and discouragement of his confinement: “O God, where art thou? … How long shall thy hand be stayed … ? Yea, O Lord, how long shall [thy people] suffer … before … thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (D&C 121:1–3). When we want to cry out “O God where art thou,” we can take solace in the scripture D&C 121 :7-8

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”

What peace I feel when I read these verses. God is truly with us. He is all around us. He promises, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). I testify that we can and will be supported in our trials and suffering if we turn to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. I knowthis because I have felt the enabling power of the atonement. Serving a mission is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I’m here and loving it because of my Savior’s mercy and because of the truthfulness of His promise found in Matthew 11: 28-30

28¶aCome unto me, all ye that blabour and are heavy laden, and I will give you crest.

29Take my ayoke upon you, and blearn of me; for I am cmeek anddlowly in eheart: and ye shall find frest unto your souls.

30For my yoke is aeasy, and my burden is light.

We will all fall. Just make sure you fall towards the Lord and not away from him. Elder Holland continues,”However heavy our load might be, it would be a lot heavier if the Savior had not gone that way before us and carried that burden with us and for us.” In moments of opposition or adversity, don’t wish it didn’t happen. This is your chance to shine! You can prove you are worthy of God’s blessings and that you will not also go away neither cast not away therefore your confidence. “Be still; and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16). When facedwith trials, trust and know that God is there, helping as you take the steps towards becoming a stronger servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for strength to endure it well so you can be exalted on high. How could we expect it to be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? “Hold on thy way.… Fear not … , for God shall be with you forever and ever” (D&C 122:9).

other sources and references:

“Learning Through Life’s Trials” by Larry Richman – http://lds.org/ensign/2010/03/learning-through-lifes-trials?lang=eng&query=learning+through+life’s+trials

“Lessons Learned from Liberty Jail” by Elder Jeffery R. Holland – http://lds.org/ensign/2009/09/lessons-from-liberty-jail?lang=eng&query=lessons+learned+liberty+jail