In the middle of a conversation regarding the death of a young sister in 1984, my grandmother said, “People call them the good old days, but we had problems too.” She peered over her Scrabble tiles and added, “My mother died when I was 14.”
This memory is etched in my mind and resurfaces when people ask why there is sickness around us and people die before what we deem is their time. “Why don’t we see miracles like our parents did?” is a question I’ve heard asked. When you receive a Flocknote message bearing the news of a person under the age of 80 passing away, do you wonder how this can be a part of God’s plan? Do you feel forsaken when you’ve prayed for someone’s healing and your prayer isn’t answered? Do you become frustrated with those who say, “She was healed; just not on earth.” When you’re in the middle of your grieving process, sometimes those words aren’t the easiest to digest.
When I think about the things that my mother, grandparents, and many older brothers and sisters went through, I realize that I should “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try me, as though some strange thing happened unto me.”
My mother’s father died when she was 15 years old. My paternal grandmother’s mother died when she was 14 years old. My maternal grandmother said goodbye to her mother at an Italian port, never to see her again, but to hear of her death a few years later through a telegram. At the age of 38, Joseph Smith died and left his pregnant wife, Emma, alone.
I don’t have to go back to the generations before me to recall deep losses that have impacted myself and many that are reading this blog. We could write pages full of examples of misfortunes that don’t seem right to our mortal minds.
Don’t think that I have things all wrapped up in my mind and don’t struggle with these incidents. The phone call that I received at work a few years ago telling me that a dear friend who was also an apostle in this church was taken from us way too soon is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. As I wept at my desk, I wasn’t thinking that it wasn’t strange that this fiery trial had come upon us. Instead, I called it a day, went home and just cried.
Life very rarely follows the plan that we have constructed in our minds. I’ve provided several real life-and-death examples that have impacted my life in one way or another. The trial that you may be in may not be life or death, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.
So, what do we do when our prayers aren’t answered? Do we think we’ve wasted our time? Like a pouting child, do we walk away and say we no longer believe in God? I pray that the answer is no, and I pray that we hold on just like those who came before us. If my grandmothers hadn’t been strong in their faith, the chances are slim that I would be counted among you.
Our prayers aren’t always answered the way we think they should be. God answers our prayers in one of three ways: Yes, No, and Not Yet. Only one of those answers is acceptable to us.
During the darkest of nights, know that God will make a way. Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. Some days seem to be filled with much loss. It’s not easy, but let’s join together in unity, holding onto each other, believing that God will make a way. Not that He CAN make a way. But that He WILL make a way.
For those of you who have read my blogs before, you know I’ll leave you with a song. This is one of my new favorite songs. I hope you receive a blessing as you listen to it.
“I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need… I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.