Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hope Smiling Brightly

It would be an understatement to say that life is crazy right now, filled with challenges and heartaches for so many people. Everywhere I look I see neighbors, friends, and family members bravely facing uphill battles as they strive to continue forward on their journey through life.

The trials faced vary: scary health conditions, financial worries, the loss of loved ones, family distress, and in some instances, overwhelming schedules that seem impossible to maintain. The adversary is also pulling out all of the stops to destroy self-esteem, marriages, and families. We are truly living in the latter-days and the war for souls is raging all around us in an intense manner that can fill the bravest hearts with fear and despair.

These days I'm often reminded of a scene from one of my favorite books, "The Return of the King," by J.R.R. Tolkien. Towards the end of the story, all seems lost. Death and mayhem are taking place everywhere as the battle between good and evil rages. As the fight continues, it becomes apparent that the forces for good are dwindling, and yet the survivors cling to the hope that they will triumph, despite overwhelming odds. The way is being paved for the return of the king, who will restore all that has been lost. Keeping that goal in mind, one by one, the main characters of this book push on, refusing to give up, despite the wounds sustained.

One brave small hobbit named Frodo feels as if he holds the fate of the world in his tiny hands. He risks everything that he is to push forward toward a goal that terrifies him, and yet, he knows that is the only way to banish the evil foe that threatens all he holds dear. It takes everything he can do to press on, and he reaches a point where he feels as though he can't take one more step. That is when his trusted friend, Sam, practically carries him up that final mountain. There Frodo battles with himself and finally achieves his goal, his courageous stance halting the adversary in his tracks.

It is my belief that we are all doing our best to climb the terrifying mountains that lie before us. We are not making that climb alone. Loved ones from the other side of the veil are cheering us on, every step of the way. When we stumble, neighbors, friends, and family members walk at our side, helping us to continue on. And when it all becomes too much, we are carried by the One who walked that pathway before us.

The other day as I silently grieved for all that a dear friend is currently facing, the following lyrics popped into my head:

When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us, and threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us, and we know that deliverance is nigh--

It took me a few minutes to figure out which hymn those inspired words came from. These lyrics are from the second verse of hymn # 19, "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet." The inspired message of that sacred hymn brought a ray of hope into my life, filling my heart with a sense of comforting peace.

It is true: we are led by a prophet of God. If we will heed his counsel, we will not fail. Though our challenges today seem overpowering, we can continue forward with hope in our hearts. We were all saved for this current day for a reason. Our Father knew we possessed the talents, courage, and fortitude that would be necessary to succeed. Step by step, we will triumph, even when the battle rages all around. Through hope, faith, and charity, we will place the armor of God upon us, courageously facing the challenges that come into our lives during this mortal journey. Bear in mind we are paving the way for the return of our King, when all will be restored, and sorrowing tears will be dried. Until that day comes, look for the good. Do those things that will inspire peace of heart and mind, knowing our focus shouldn't rest upon the many wounds we've sustained along the way--how well we embraced hope when all seemed lost is what will matter most.

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