I know it has been a while since I last composed a blog post. Life seems to be a blur these days as we journey from one adventure to another. And everywhere we look, people are being stretched in a myriad of ways. There are so many trials and heartaches. The world does indeed seem to be in commotion and our hearts are being filled with fear, as the scriptures have predicted.
Despite all of that, there can be peace. It is found in the small and simple things we have been repeatedly asked to do. These things are so simple, we sometimes turn our backs to them, thinking there is no way we can find solace in what many consider to be old-fashioned nonsense. Many cling to scientific discoveries or worldly views, thinking that is where truth will be found. And yet, their hearts are still filled with a gnawing emptiness as they continue to turn away from the only source of comfort.
In this world, we all have to find our own way to comforting peace. Sadly, we sometimes don’t search for that path until our lives lie in ruins. When we find ourselves broken, overwhelmed, and discouraged, that is often when we realize that an important aspect is missing.
One of my grandfathers owned a dairy. He milked cows most of his adult life. My mother often relates how wonderful it was to walk out to the milking parlor where her father was sitting on a stool, milking one of his cows. In her tiny hand was a tin cup. She would hopefully hold out that cup, knowing her father would fill it for her. In that way, she gained desired nourishment, comfort, and joy.
There are several analogies we can create from that small and simple thing. The first one that comes to mind is that for my grandfather to be able to fill his daughter’s empty cup, he had to be steadfast and solid himself. If he hadn’t been anchored on a strong foundation, the cup would remain empty, and the life-giving substance would go to waste.
So we begin with the foundation: in this case a sturdy, 3-legged stool. A 2-legged stool is too wobbly—all three legs are very much needed for solid balance. To my way of thinking we all are in need of a sturdy, 3-legged foundation. To survive in today’s crazy world we need prayer, testimony, and faith. Those are the 3 legs that will hold us up, despite heart-rending trials.
I look back over my life and I know that whenever I have faced hard things, prayer has been a crucial life-line. I have endured numerous health glitches, some so scary I wondered if I would survive. My heart has been repeatedly shattered by horrific loss, and yet comfort has been attained. I have agonized over choices made by loved ones—but peace descends when I need it most. All of that has come through sincere prayer. The answers don’t always surface at once, but every prayer is heard, and eventually answered by a loving Father in heaven.
There is an argument that if you can’t see something, it doesn’t exist. Fortunately, we were blessed with more than one sense. My mother is losing her eyesight. She depends on her ability to hear, touch, and smell to orient herself. For her, prayer is a needed lifeline. It has held her together through countless trials.
I feel the same way. Prayer has guided my course through life and provided peace when I’ve needed it most. When we humble ourselves enough to truly talk to our Father in heaven, amazing things take place. I have seen too many miracles to ever doubt that prayer is real. Prayer is one leg of our sure foundation.
Testimony is another crucial leg of our foundation. Without it, we pretty much are blown about by whatever wind comes into our lives. When we sincerely crave to know what is true and what this life is all about, then we seek a genuine knowledge. It comes in a myriad of ways: experience, education, and what our heart tells us is right. I found it through savoring the scriptures. It doesn’t come through skimming through them—but through diligent study . . . and prayer. One leg helps to hold up another. To achieve the desired balance, we must rely on each leg of our stool.
The final leg: faith. We have to believe in what we come to know is truth. We have to push our way through darkened paths to find light and joy. It’s not easy. I have found myself broken on life’s path, overwhelmed by inner pain. I have gazed at the sky and seen only clouds—it’s easy to forget that beyond them lie the stars.
I have shared this experience before, but I feel impressed to share it again:
A few weeks ago, I had been feeling quite discouraged. I think we all experience times like that in our lives, times when we wonder why life has to be so challenging. I don't feel that way all of the time, but for some reason, at that particular instance, despair seemed to creep into my heart. One night when everyone else in my family had gone to bed, I wandered outside. Sometimes listening to the night sounds brings comfort and so I sat on the porch and listened for a bit. I remember silently praying, asking why I was feeling this way. The thought came to mind, "There is still beauty in the world." I agreed, but still wanted to know why things seemed so bleak. I had been having some challenging health problems and at that time, there were several trials taking place with some of my extended family members. As I wondered why everything had to be so hard, I stood and glanced up at the sky. It was one of those star-filled nights--the entire sky was lit up with stars. Again the thought came to mind, "There is still beauty in the world." As I gazed at the stars, I noticed that clouds were moving in. This is something that has probably occurred millions of times, but for once, I was watching as it happened. Within minutes, every star was covered. As I stared at the sky, I was so amazed by how quickly the clouds had moved in. Another thought came to mind, "Are the stars still there?" With that thought came the peace I had been seeking. Other thoughts came, "Is the Church still true? Does your Heavenly Father love you? Did your elder Brother lay His life down for you? Are all of these things true despite the discouragement, despite the challenges, the heartaches, the pains of life? Are the stars still there?"
The lesson I was taught that night has been such a comfort. Every time I start feeling a little down, it comes to mind: "Are the stars still there?"
To make a long story short, [I wrote] a song based on that theme . . . Here are the lyrics:
Are The Stars Still There?
By: Cheri J. Crane
Dark were my thoughts--all around were storms of heartache and strife
All those tests that sometimes just go with life
Mountains that seemed too steep to climb.
I walked outside--to clear my head and ask my Father, "Why?"
My inner peace had dissolved for a time
Where was the faith that was mine?
Staring at the star-filled sky--my heart revealed its inner cry
"Father, if You're listening help me know the reason why."
A thousand tiny twinkling lights were covered, hidden from my sight
Grey clouds veiling light that once had shone so bright.
Darkness seemed to fill the night as every star was veiled from sight
Yet peace crept in my heart and comfort eased the black despair
As the question came, "My child, my child--Are the stars still there?"
Now when dark thoughts come and some nights seem too long
I remember the words of this song
When everything seems to go wrong
The answer to my prayer--the night I struggled with despair
The night my Father heard my silent prayer
And reminded me the stars are always there.
Our Father's love is always there--through layers of grief and care
Hope is shining brightly through the clouds of dark despair
A thousand tiny twinkling lights--though covered, hidden from our sight
Grey clouds veiling light that once had shone so bright.
Though darkness seems to fill the night--And every star is veiled from sight
Peace and love seep through to ease the black despair--
Remember the question--"My child, are the stars still there?"
Faith, testimony, & prayer—these are the legs for our much-needed foundation. They are lifelines in today’s’ crazy world. For any who are struggling through life’s journey, these are the things that will help us survive. They will help us find a balance that is crucial. And once we establish our own balance, then we can help fill the cups that others hold out to us.