You have been on my mind so much as of late. Even though hundreds of miles and several states separate us physically, I have felt a close kinship to you spiritually. I suppose that is to be expected and cherished with childhood friends.
|Entrance to Enlightenment, oil on board, 1988, by Johan H. Benthin|
I hope you know how much I admire you. To me, you represent the pinnacle of triumph over adversity. You have overcome so much in your life, and while many things could have made you bitter you choose to move forward in your life as a radiant, powerful daughter of God and follower of Christ.
I know things have been difficult for you lately. I understand how challenging it can be to continue on in the face of raging storms and obscured paths.
As I read the words you wrote recently, I found myself completely empathizing with you– for I have stood in similar shoes time and time again. You said:
These past few weeks have really gotten me thinking about Job. How do you lose everything and still praise God? That is such an amazing Faith that I do not yet have. When you feel like the devil is running rampant trying to take everything you have, how on earth do you trust that it will ever end positively? …Haven’t I proven my strength? Why do I continue to be tested? When does it all end?
You and I may not have journeyed down identical roads of trial and tribulation, but I have also walked through stretches of deepened darkness and despair. I have echoed in my heart so many times the song of David:
Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. (Psalm 6:2-4,6)
Although we may cry out, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me!“
Our God reassuringly speaks peace to our anxious hearts:
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. (see Isaiah 49:13-16)
But what I do know is this:
That in Christ, all things are possible.
He Himself said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
C. S. Lewis phrased it this way, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”
Someone whose sermons I adore is Jeffrey R. Holland. In my faith tradition we sustain him as a modern-day apostle of the Lord. His retelling of the story of Elisha and the Syrian army cheers and sustains me through the difficult moments in life:
Elisha, with a power known only to the prophets, had counseled the king of Israel on how and where and when to defend against the warring Syrians. The king of Syria, of course, wished to rid his armies of this prophetic problem. So—and I quote:
Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. . . . an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. (2 Kings 6:14–15)
If Elisha is looking for a good time to be depressed, this is it… It is one prophet and one lad against the world. And the boy is petrified. He sees the enemy everywhere—difficulty and despair and problems and burdens everywhere… With faltering faith the boy cries, “Alas, my master! How shall we do?”
And Elisha’s reply? “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:15–16).
“They that be with us?” Now just an Israelite minute here. Faith is fine and courage is wonderful, but this is ridiculous, the boy thinks. There are no others with them. He can recognize a Syrian army when he sees one, and he knows that one child and an old man are not strong odds against it. But then comes Elisha’s promise:
Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16–17)
In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of [heaven and earth], and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of [God’s children].
(Jeffrey R. Holland, “For Times of Trouble,” BYU Devotional, 18 Mar 1980)
When hurricanes of life barrel down upon me, I try to remember those unseen angels helping me fight my battles. One of my favorite modern-day scriptures states, “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D&C 84:88)
Or, as Chris Tomlin says in more modern vernacular, “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind: The God of angel armies is always by my side.”
That thought in tandem with these words of Isaiah give me tremendous comfort and peace:
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people and will have mercy upon his afflicted. (Isaiah 49:13)
I wish I could be with you in person– to give you a hug and tell you just how much I love you and am thankful to have our friendship to bless my life. But these words will have to suffice for now.
But please know of my love.
And more importantly, His love.
Cling to His promises, and find solace in your strong supportive faith community.
And when those darkening moments come, take heart.
For all of the greatest heroines of this life have overcome formidable and unyielding obstacles.
And you, my dear friend, are one beloved heroine.
With much love,