Friday, November 14, 2008

Though Deepening Trials

It is part of our culture to mourn with those who mourn, to lift up the hands that hang down. It seems in today's troubled world, we are being given numerous opportunities to participate in this noble tradition.

In our own little valley, we have been inundated with heartbreaking loss and challenging trials. The number of those who have been taken from this mortal world during the past couple of years is at times overwhelming.

The other day as I visited with a close friend, a sister of the heart, we were discussing the recent events that were taking place all around us. Since this is a small area, there are no strangers. When tragedy strikes, it affects everyone. My friend asked questions we've all pondered, "Why? When is this all going to end?"

These questions are valid, and there are no easy answers. To my way of thinking, to understand why these things happen, we have to understand why we're here, which is pretty well summed up in something we call the Plan of Salvation. It boils down to the following:

1) We lived before we came to this mortal world as spirit children of our Father in heaven. Because we desired to learn and grow and become more like Him, we were given a chance to gain a physical body.

2) We came to earth to gain this body. Part of our challenge is learning how to control said body. [Sometimes this takes a looooonnnnggg time. ;) ] It's important to remember to do as much good as we possibly can while we're here.

3) Another reason we're here is to be tested. This will take place in a variety of ways as our willingness to be obedient to our Father in heaven is assessed. I call this being in rubber-band mode. We will be stretched to the breaking point. This is not my idea of a fun time, but it is a crucial part of the education process during our mortal lives.

4) When our allotted time is through, we are called home to our heavenly parents. This is always a heartbreaking time for our loved ones, but the good news is that we can be sealed together as eternal families, and those bonds will last forever. We will see our beloved friends and family members again, if we so desire.

5) Since this life is a testing ground, it is important to make good choices, knowing we will be judged according to the kind of lives we lead while on this earth. How grateful we are that our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, paved the way for us to live again, if we will but accept the sacrifice He made on our behalf, and keep His commandments.

During the past few years, I've had numerous opportunities to attend funerals for loved ones. It is always a difficult challenge. But I've noticed something. When I've attended a funeral for someone who has lived a good life, a feeling of loving joy pervades. The funeral seems more like a graduation ceremony.

The happiest funerals are for those who learned an important secret. They learned to live life to the fullest, to make the most of every opportunity, to laugh and be positive minded, and to love with all of their hearts.
I come away from these kind of funerals with a renewed perspective of what is really important. A resolve to follow their example burns deep within.

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a valiant woman from our valley. She was the same age as my husband and they grew up together in this small town of Bennington. For my husband, it was like losing a sister; they had shared so much during their youth.

Her funeral was similar to those I've described. The feeling of peace was comforting. She had touched numerous lives during her time on this earth. As such, that church building was filled to the brim with those who had come to pay their last respects. Her memory will live on in our hearts, as will her example, and the knowledge that she successfully completed her mortal mission. We will grieve for a time for her loss, and we will mourn with her family who will face difficult days ahead.

How blessed we are to know that we will never face trials of this nature alone. Not only will prayers be offered on behalf of her family and friends, but those on the other side of the veil will be offering succor as well. And always our wise and loving Father in heaven, and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, will render comforting relief when the need is great.

During the past couple of days, the lyrics from Hymn # 122, have been going through my mind. I'd like to close this blog by sharing some of them. Written by one of my heroes, Eliza R. Snow, it expresses what is in my heart today:

Though deepening trials throng your way,
Press on, press on, ye Saints of God!
Ere long the resurrection day
Will spread its life and truth abroad.

Though outward ills await us here,
The time, at longest, is not long,
Ere Jesus Christ will reappear
Surrounded by a glorious throng.

Lift up your hearts in praise to God,
Let your rejoicings never cease.
Though tribulations rage abroad
Christ says, "In me, ye shall have peace."

This work is moving on apace,
And great events are rolling forth;
The kingdom of the latter days
The "little stone" must fill the earth.

Though satan rage, 'tis all in vain;
The words the ancient prophet spoke

Sure as the throne of God remain;

Nor men nor devils can revoke.

All glory to his holy name

Who sends his faithful servants forth,

To prove the nations, to proclaim
Salvation's tidings through the earth.

Return to the Neighborhood


Candace E. Salima said...

This is a very beautiful post, Cheri. Sage advice from someone who was walked that path. Alvin and I have too lost many family members over the last 3 years . . . shockingly, young family members and friends. Sometimes it is easy to become shell shocked. But you have given me peace with these beautiful words. Thank you.


Cheri J. Crane said...

Thank you for the kind words, Candace. Losing loved ones is easily one of the most difficult trials that we face. I'm just so very grateful that we don't have to face these heart-breaking challenges alone.