Recently my husband and I visited dear friends who live in St. George, Utah. Our 57-year-old friend Dave, who we have known since high school, has had such severe back problems that he is functionally disabled. He spent days, months and now years mostly in bed, while his wife, Joann, has had to work to support the family–with no retirement in sight.
As I thought of them, I pondered the words of Kent F. Richards in the April 2011 General Conference. “None of us is immune from experiencing pain. I have seen people cope with it very differently. Some turn away from God in anger, and others allow their suffering to bring them closer to God”. Joann and Dave said they have experienced both.
When we are suffering from physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional pain–or a combination of them all–we are hurting. We need understanding and succor. President Richard assures us that, “The Savior is not a silent observer. He Himself knows personally and infinitely the pain we face . . . In the book of Matthew we are reminded, “When the even was come, they brought unto Him many . . . and He . . . healed all that were sick.” That means we can all experience some form of the Saviors healing.
In the case of Dave, many times we have prayed for him to be healed, but in the end we have had to accept his illness. Joann has changed her prayer from “Please heal Dave so he won’t experience such pain, so he can work and help and be more a part of our lives,” to simply, “Please give me patience, please give me strength.”
I was discussing Joann’s dilemma with a friend, Kathy, while we sat around a campfire. She was quiet for a moment and then responded, “It is my personal belief that many of our trials were ones we agreed to before we were born.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. I shared a time in my life when years ago depression had me clutched in its painful hands and I begged my husband, Dan, to give me a blessing:
The Day Will Come
I glanced at the clock that read 2 A.M. then sat perched on the bed in my nightgown, my pregnant belly hiding my thighs and folded my arms. Quickly I wiped tears from my face and took a deep breath, Dan placed his hands on my head and I prayed for guidance, for help, for something. Then through the power of the Holy Melchezdich priesthood the words Dan spoke became the words of my Father in Heaven. They permeated our quiet room and my trembling ebbed as God’s message entered my heart. I was reminded of the Lord’s love for me, then I was told that that I had agreed to this depression before I entered into mortal life and that the day would come when it would be a “blessing” to myself, my family and all those around me.
As I sat there I could visualize myself receiving a similar blessing before embarking on my earthly experience. It was as though I was viewing a video of a past memory. I could hear my Father counseling me and telling me that I would have experiences on earth that I would need in order to return to Him again. I felt great love for Him and an immense respect as he allowed me to be part of the “trial selection process.” Among the experiences we discussed was that of depression. Through the blessing I was promised that “one day this will —be a blessing to you, your family, and all those around you.”
When I opened my eyes after the blessing was finished, I could only recall the warmth and love I felt and somehow I knew that I truly had agreed to go through the depression I was now facing.
Dan and I then embraced each other and wept. Although it was hard to believe just how this hellish experience with depression could ever be a blessing, at least now I knew that it wasn’t just a lack of character, a fatal flaw or a terrible imperfection . . . . It was part of my life’s experience that God somehow meant to use to benefit myself and others.
(An LDS adaptation from My Journey from Darkness to Light pg. 32 by Patricia Potts)
So it is, as we ponder and pray, then ponder again in the quiet moments of our lives, hopefully we will remember that as we ask Him to, Christ will strengthen and heal us (but perhaps not in the way we first expected), and that often our trials are ones we agreed to before we came to earth. Orson F. Whitney said it well, “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted . . . . It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”
Whether our pain is physical, spiritual, mental or emotional, we can turn to Jesus. We can find hope!!
www.Patriciapotts.com- Tips and tools for More Sane Living (is there such a thing?)