Isaiah 55:8-9

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

From The Christ- Focused Beatitudes by Robert E. Wells BYU Talk May 20, 1986

Blessed Are They That Mourn: For They Shall Be Comforted

I imagine that of all the Beatitudes, this would appear at first glance to be the most unusual and contradictory. At the least it is a very strong paradox. How can it be a blessing to be in mourning? To mourn is to show grief or pain at the death of a loved one. To mourn is much more profound than to just be sad. It is a deep, agonizing, penetrating, intense pain that cannot be hid from the world, nor from God, nor can it be eased, nor pacified, except with comfort and consolation from God through the Holy Ghost. Why would the Savior then say it is a blessing to mourn?

It may be that pain and suffering from the death of loved ones is really an essential and important part of our mortal experience, just like our own death is inevitable some day. There seem to come a maturity and a deeper dimension and a more profound understanding when we are left behind. The reality of death obliges us to face the question of the reality of the spirit world and the hope of the resurrection. It is through suffering that one discovers the difference between those things that are important and that which is unimportant in the eternal perspective.

It might be that it is a blessing to become more fully aware, through the death of a loved one, that God’s ways are not our ways and that we must trust him in that fact. One of my favorite stories with roots in Islamic traditions illustrates that especially in death we need to look for the hidden purposes of the Lord, which, when understood, turn to comfort and blessings.

It seems that Moses, being in heaven, wondered about the work of a certain angel who was departing for earth. He asked the angel if he might accompany him on his errand. The angel responded, “Nay, thou wouldst not be able to stand that which thou wouldst see.” Moses insisted, so the angel placed a condition. “No matter what thou wouldst see, thou must remain silent.” Moses agreed and the two came to earth.

They left the borders of dry land and went far out over the sea, even beyond sight of land, where they found some humble fishermen in their boat fishing. The angel, unseen, broke the boards of the keel, the boat sank, and the fishermen drowned. Moses started to protest but the angel declared, “Thou must remain silent.”

Next they came upon an Arab boy walking through the sands of the desert. Unseen, the angel breathed in the boy’s face; his blood froze, and he fell to the earth, dead. Moses started to protest but the angel silenced him, “I told thee that thou wouldst not stand what thou wouldst see. Thou must remain silent.”

Then the two came upon a poor home where lived a widow and her two sons. Their only means of survival was the produce from their small garden, protected against the wind and sands of the desert by a tall adobe wall. To Moses’ surprise the angel pushed the wall over, crushing the vines, melons, and cucumbers, which the family sorely needed. Moses could not stand it any longer. He erupted. The angel silenced him and said, “Thou canst go with me no longer. Thou must return. But first, lest thou misjudge Allah who has sent me, I will explain. The fishermen would soon have been captured by a pirate boat approaching over the horizon, and been enslaved, tortured, and killed. This way they die in the profession they loved. The Arab boy would soon have fought with another mother’s son, killing the latter. This way the second boy lives and this one dies blood guiltless. The widow’s husband, before he died, hid a fortune in the base of the adobe wall. Now the boys, rebuilding the wall, will find the fortune, invest it wisely, and prosper. But thou didst doubt. Thou canst go with me no longer.”

When we can see the Lord’s purposes fulfilled in that which gives us sorrow, the Holy Ghost can give us full consolation, and the atonement and resurrection truly become to us the cornerstone of our faith. In the midst of mourning one discovers deeper dimensions of love, friendship, and brotherhood. In the midst of mourning, one determines if his faith is a social decoration or if it is an essential ingredient upon which his whole life is based. It is in the midst of mourning that one discovers the personal closeness of his Heavenly Father and his Savior Jesus Christ and the comfort of the Holy Ghost. As President McKay used to say, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity” (John Flavel [c. 1680], see Burton Stevenson, comp., The Home Book of Quotations [New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1956], p. 1430). We will be blessed in mourning and be comforted as we reflect on eternal marriage, eternal families, eternal values.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"No one knows what it is like. No one understands."

"There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light."

From Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease by Elder David A. Bednar
April 2014 LDS General Conference

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Healing Power of Grief

From the January 2014 Ensign, by Steven Eastmond
Although painful, grief can help bring us closer to the Savior.

The life plan that John (John is a composite of many real people) had in mind for himself didn’t include his wife getting cancer in her 60s. He was torn between the hope that she would get better and the reality that his wife continued to decline. When she died, John felt pain he had never experienced.
As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, John’s pain did not seem to relent. He felt as if he had lost his world, his mind, and his faith all at once, and there did not seem to be any hope. John’s grief was consuming, and he could not seem to find comfort.
This story is similar to many shared with me as I worked as a hospice social worker. The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult trials we can face in mortality. Understanding what grief is and what is common for people to feel when someone dies can help us experience a measure of peace while going through the grieving process.

What Is Grief?

Grief is the emotional, and often physical, response we have when we experience loss. The more profound the loss, the more profound the grief will be. Grief can involve virtually every emotion or can leave us feeling numb and disconnected from the world around us.
Manifestations of grief may include hopelessness, anxiety, anger, denial, guilt, incapacitating fatigue, difficulty in controlling emotions, lack of concentration, loss of interest in people or activities, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
As a result, some, like John, question their faith in Heavenly Father because the pain is so overwhelming. They find it difficult to recognize the help the Lord is extending. Reassuring is the promise from Isaiah: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).
Sometimes the hardest part about grief is simply not understanding what is happening. Knowing a few principles can help us successfully make our own journey through grief.

Grief Is Painful, but Do Not Avoid It

Grief hurts, but it can be the salve that helps us heal when it is allowed to do its work appropriately. The first step in handling grief is to recognize that the pain is a normal part of the process. It needs to be acknowledged, not avoided.
The scriptures are filled with examples of grief, loss, and the associated pain. Job grieved deeply upon learning of the death of all his children (see Job 1:18–21; 2:13; 6:1–3). After a tremendous battle between the Nephites and Lamanites, many thousands were slain, and “surely this was a sorrowful day; yea, a time of solemnity, and a time of much fasting and prayer” (Alma 28:6). Although David’s son Absalom caused him great disappointment and sorrow, David loved him deeply, and the scriptures are clear about the pain he felt upon learning of his son’s death (see 2 Samuel 19:1–4).
Grieving is not a brief process. Be patient with it and give it time. As with a physical wound, the pain of losing a loved one requires time to heal.

Feeling Sorrow Does Not Show a Lack of Faith

After a faithful member of the Church passes away, the surviving family members commonly report feeling profound peace that they will see that loved one again. At the same time, however, family members usually feel tremendous sadness. It is important for us to understand that one can feel both sadness and peace at the same time.
I have worked with many good people who wondered if they had lost faith because they felt profound sorrow at the passing of a loved one. They mistakenly thought that a person with a strong testimony should not feel deeply saddened at a loved one’s passing—as if mourning the loved one’s death were synonymous with a disbelief in the afterlife or the Savior’s promises.
In the October 2004 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) expressed his tender feelings concerning his wife. “My children and I were at her bedside as she slipped peacefully into eternity. As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome. Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she has again become the girl of my dreams.”1 President Hinckley’s profound grief did not equate to a loss of faith.

The Price of Loving Someone

The Savior has said, “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die” (D&C 42:45). I have learned that grief is the price we pay for loving someone—and that the price is worth it. None of the people I have worked with said they would give up the love they had for a family member in order to avoid the grief that came from losing that family member. When loved ones pass from this side of the veil to the other, they continue to be just as important to us as when they were with us. Because we love them, we can’t really expect to completely “get over” losing them.
I have stood at the bedsides of many people as they passed from this life, and I have had countless experiences that have strengthened my knowledge that our loved ones are in many ways as present with us after death as they are during life. We cannot typically see them, but they are often there to help us through our various challenges—including our grief over their passing. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught: “Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.”2

Grief and the Atonement

Death is part of our existence here on the earth. Nevertheless, through the Atonement and Resurrection of His Son, Heavenly Father has provided a way for us not only to overcome death but also to be comforted and healed. Through the power of the Atonement, “the sting of death” can be replaced by the peace that the Spirit brings (see Alma 22:14).
Elder Merrill J. Bateman, who served as a General Authority from 1992 to 2007, said: “Just as the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda needed someone stronger than himself to be healed (see John 5:1–9), so we are dependent on the miracles of Christ’s Atonement if our souls are to be made whole from grief, sorrow, and sin. … Death’s sting is softened as Jesus bears the believers’ grief and comforts them through the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, broken hearts are mended and peace replaces anxiety and sorrow.”3
Referring to the sorrowful Friday on which Jesus’s followers grieved His death and then to the glorious Sunday on which He was resurrected, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
“But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
“No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”4
Some nights are much longer than others, but the morning always follows. Death brings deep sorrow, but our joy will exceed our ability to comprehend when our reunion with deceased loved ones finally comes. Yet peace is not reserved for the next life only; we can feel peace now, even in the very moment we are feeling pain. How thankful we can be for the sacrifice of our Savior and the healing power His Atonement can bring us in spite of our grief. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Falter or Finish?

Job and His Wife by Albrecht Durer
From President Monson, "I Will Not Fail Thee, Nor Forsake Thee" Oct. 2013 General Conference
"Brothers and sisters, it may be safely assumed that no person has ever lived entirely free of suffering and sorrow, nor has there ever been a period in human history that did not have its full share of turmoil and misery.
When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question “Why me?” At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night’s darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes. We join in uttering the biblical plea, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”1 We feel abandoned, heartbroken, alone. We are inclined to view our own personal misfortunes through the distorted prism of pessimism. We become impatient for a solution to our problems, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.
The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure. A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter, or shall I finish? Some do falter as they find themselves unable to rise above their challenges. To finish involves enduring to the very end of life itself.
As we ponder the events that can befall all of us, we can say with Job of old, “Man is born unto trouble.”2 Job was a “perfect and upright” man who “feared God, and eschewed evil.”3 Pious in his conduct, prosperous in his fortune, Job was to face a test which could have destroyed anyone. Shorn of his possessions, scorned by his friends, afflicted by his suffering, shattered by the loss of his family, he was urged to “curse God, and die.”4 He resisted this temptation and declared from the depths of his noble soul:
“Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.”5
“I know that my redeemer liveth.”6
Job kept the faith. Will we do likewise as we face those challenges which will be ours?
Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Do we walk alone in our trials? NEVER! The lesson of homemade bread.....

From President Monson's talk We Never Walk Alone, General Relief Society Broadcast Oct. 2013
" There will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone. Fear replaces faith.
When you find yourself in such circumstances, I plead with you to remember prayer. I love the words of President Ezra Taft Benson concerning prayer. Said he:
“All through my life the counsel to depend on prayer has been prized above almost any other advice I have … received. It has become an integral part of me—an anchor, a constant source of strength, and the basis of my knowledge of things divine. …
“… Though reverses come, in prayer we can find reassurance, for God will speak peace to the soul. That peace, that spirit of serenity, is life’s greatest blessing.”2
The Apostle Paul admonished:
“Let your requests be made known unto God.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”3
What a glorious promise! Peace is that which we seek, that for which we yearn.
We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask. We have the promise: “Pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.”4
As our prayers ascend heavenward, let us not forget the words taught to us by the Savior. When He faced the excruciating agony of Gethsemane and the cross, He prayed to the Father, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”5 Difficult as it may at times be, it is for us, as well, to trust our Heavenly Father to know best how and when and in what manner to provide the help we seek.
May I share with you the account of how our Heavenly Father answered the prayers and pleadings of one woman and provided her the peace and assurance she so desperately sought?
Tiffany’s difficulties began last year when she had guests at her home for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas. Her husband had been in medical school and was now in the second year of his medical residency. Because of the long work hours required of him, he was not able to help her as much as they both would have liked, and so most of that which needed to be accomplished during this holiday season, in addition to the care of their four young children, fell to Tiffany. She was becoming overwhelmed, and then she learned that one who was dear to her had been diagnosed with cancer. The stress and worry began to take a heavy toll on her, and she slipped into a period of discouragement and depression. She sought medical help, and yet nothing changed. Her appetite disappeared, and she began to lose weight, which her tiny frame could ill afford. She sought peace through the scriptures and prayed for deliverance from the gloom which was overtaking her. When neither peace nor help seemed to come, she began to feel abandoned by God. Her family and friends prayed for her and tried desperately to help. They delivered her favorite foods in an attempt to keep her physically healthy, but she could take only a few bites and then would be unable to finish.
On one particularly trying day, a friend attempted in vain to entice her with foods she had always loved. When nothing worked, the friend said, “There must be something that sounds good to you.”
Tiffany thought for a moment and said, “The only thing I can think of that sounds good is homemade bread.”
But there was none on hand.
The following afternoon Tiffany’s doorbell rang. Her husband happened to be home and answered it. When he returned, he was carrying a loaf of homemade bread. Tiffany was astonished when he told her it had come from a woman named Sherrie, whom they barely knew. She was a friend of Tiffany’s sister Nicole, who lived in Denver, Colorado. Sherrie had been introduced to Tiffany and her husband briefly several months earlier when Nicole and her family were staying with Tiffany for Thanksgiving. Sherrie, who lived in Omaha, had come to Tiffany’s home to visit with Nicole.
Now, months later, with the delicious bread in hand, Tiffany called her sister Nicole to thank her for sending Sherrie on an errand of mercy. Instead, she learned Nicole had not instigated the visit and had no knowledge of it.
The rest of the story unfolded as Nicole checked with her friend Sherrie to find out what had prompted her to deliver that loaf of bread. What she learned was an inspiration to her, to Tiffany, to Sherrie—and it is an inspiration to me.
On that particular morning of the bread delivery, Sherrie had been prompted to make two loaves of bread instead of the one she had planned to make. She said she felt impressed to take the second loaf with her in her car that day, although she didn’t know why. After lunch at a friend’s home, her one-year-old daughter began to cry and needed to be taken home for a nap. Sherrie hesitated when the unmistakable feeling came to her that she needed to deliver that extra loaf of bread to Nicole’s sister Tiffany, who lived 30 minutes away on the other side of town and whom she barely knew. She tried to rationalize away the thought, wanting to get her very tired daughter home and feeling sheepish about delivering a loaf of bread to people who were almost strangers. However, the impression to go to Tiffany’s home was strong, so she heeded the prompting.
When she arrived, Tiffany’s husband answered the door. Sherrie reminded him that she was Nicole’s friend whom he’d met briefly at Thanksgiving, handed him the loaf of bread, and left.
And so it happened that the Lord sent a virtual stranger across town to deliver not just the desired homemade bread but also a clear message of love to Tiffany. What happened to her cannot be explained in any other way. She had an urgent need to feel that she wasn’t alone—that God was aware of her and had not abandoned her. That bread—the very thing she wanted—was delivered to her by someone she barely knew, someone who had no knowledge of her need but who listened to the prompting of the Spirit and followed that prompting. It became an obvious sign to Tiffany that her Heavenly Father was aware of her needs and loved her enough to send help. He had responded to her cries for relief.
My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beautiful Mornings

Beautiful Morning Image by Katerha on courtesy creative commons license
From April 2013 General Conference:
"Brothers and sisters, we need not fear the future, nor falter in hope and good cheer, because God is with us. Among the first recorded words of counsel that Jesus gave to His newly called disciples in Galilee was the two-word admonition, “Fear not” (Luke 5:10). He repeated that counsel many times during His ministry. To His Saints in our day, the Savior has said, “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you” (D&C 68:6).
Every one of us, and our families, can be armed with the power of God as a defense if we will but remain true to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and let the Spirit be our guide. Trials may come, and we may not understand everything that happens to us or around us. But if we humbly, quietly trust in the Lord, He will give us strength and guidance in every challenge we face. When our only desire is to please Him, we will be blessed with a deep inner peace.
My missionary companion, Paul, was someone who always radiated good cheer. As a young father, he was stricken with multiple sclerosis. Yet despite the adversity that followed, he continued serving others with joy and good humor. He once entered my office seated in his first wheelchair and declared, “Life begins with a motorized wheelchair!” I will always remember him, a few years before he died, holding high the Olympic torch while riding in his wheelchair as hundreds cheered. Like that ever-burning flame, Paul’s faith never dimmed in the storm of life.
When I was a student at Brigham Young University, I lived in a house with several young men. My roommate, Bruce, was the most optimistic person I have ever known. We never once heard him say anything negative about any person or any circumstance, and it was impossible not to feel buoyed up in his presence. His good cheer flowed from an abiding trust in the Savior and in His gospel.

One cold, wintry day, another friend of mine, Tom, was walking across the university campus. It was only 7:00 in the morning, and the campus was deserted and dark. Heavy snow was falling, with a brisk wind. “What miserable weather,” Tom thought. He walked farther, and out in the darkness and snow, he heard someone singing.

Sure enough, through the driving snow came our ever-optimistic friend, Bruce. With his arms outstretched to the sky, he was singing a number from the Broadway musical Oklahoma: “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way” (see Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” [1943]).

In the intervening years, that bright voice in a dark storm has become for me a symbol of what faith and hope are all about. Even in a darkening world, we as Latter-day Saints may sing with joy, knowing that the powers of heaven are with God’s Church and people. We may rejoice in the knowledge that a beautiful morning lies ahead—the dawn of the millennial day, when the Son of God shall rise in the East and reign again on the earth."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Eternal Blessing of Marriage

"   Please pardon me for speaking of my precious wife, Jeanene, but we are an eternal family. She was always joyously happy, and much of it came from service to others. Even while very ill, in her morning prayer she would ask her Father in Heaven to lead her to someone she could help. That sincere supplication was answered time and again. The burdens of many were eased; their lives were brightened. She was blessed continually for being an instrument directed by the Lord.
     I know what it is to love a daughter of Father in Heaven who with grace and devotion lived the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood. I am confident that when, in our future, I see her again beyond the veil, we will recognize that we have become even more deeply in love. We will appreciate each other even more, having spent this time separated by the veil. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Elder Richard G. Scott The Eternal Blessings of Marriage April 2011 General Conference
Whole talk found HERE