Monday, November 11, 2013
This past week has caused my family a bit of stress. One of my sister's daughters is currently serving a mission in the Philippines. If you've seen some of the news stories that the media has presented since Typhoon Haiyan made an appearance, you will probably understand our concern. Although we have been told comforting things like most of the missionaries serving in the Philippine Islands have been accounted for, there is still a fearful nudge that afflicts us all from time to time. We believe she is fine, but we want sure knowledge. We want to know where she is, if she's all right, and to hear her voice . . . or at least read an e-mail typed by her hand. The continued silence on her end is a source of worry.
I suspect that times like these are tests. Do we possess enough faith to continue on, even when the way isn't sure? It is a difficult trial.
Years ago, after I spoke at a fireside for a group of girls attending an annual YW girls' camp, I was presented with a necklace that contained a mustard seed encased in resin. It was the first time I had ever seen an actual mustard seed. This necklace became one of my treasures . . . a reminder that we can do great things if we possess faith the size of this very small seed.
In the New Testament, Matthew tells us the following story: a troubled man had brought his son to be healed by Christ's disciples. They tried--but were not successful. The man then approached our Savior and begged for His help. He healed this man's son in an instant. Later, when his disciples asked Him why they had not been able to heal this boy, Jesus told them it was because of their lack of faith. He went on to say,
" . . . if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." He then adds the following counsel: "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (See Matt. 17:14-21) In other words, yes, if we possess a tiny bit of faith, great things are possible . . . but it requires effort on our part--belief, prayer, and fasting."
I believe this to be true. I have seen miraculous things take place when faith, prayer, and fasting are combined. I've been told as a Type 1 diabetic that fasting is not my friend, and to be honest, I don't attempt it very often, but when the need is great, and I've done everything else I can think of to make a positive difference, I fast. I go without food and water for as many hours as my body will tolerate. Eventually, my blood sugar level crashes, and I have to wrap things up fast, but to me, these sacred opportunities are great blessings in my life--a way to show my Father in heaven that I have done everything I can possibly do to survive a difficult trial, or on behalf of someone else who is suffering through a heart-rending test.
Things don't always turn out the way I hope or pray for--but I am usually blessed with the gift of peace and an assurance that while I may not understand why the outcome wasn't what I had desired--someday I will. Someday it will become clear why things happened the way that they did.
Periodically, I may still wish for a magic wand that makes everything better for everyone--but then again, perhaps that would defeat the purpose of this life. Without trials, we wouldn't grow into who our Father hopes we will someday become. And with faith, we can survive whatever this mortal journey brings our way.