“O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.” (2 Nephi 4:34)
The year 2012 has brought unprecedented challenges–to me personally and to the world in general. Paul’s words seem appropriate: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Today I admit to distress, but my belief in God’s infinite loving careiskeeping me from despair.
Pondering the pending New Year, I am glad I have no specific knowledge of what it might bring. Had I stood on the threshold of 2012 and been shown all at once what the world and I would have to deal with, it would have been supremely difficult to muster the courage to face it. However, “sufficient to the day is the evil thereof” and one day at a time, with the Lord’s help, 2012 has been a year rich in love and learning.
Now, I’m reaching out for and claiming trust that whatever difficult things might happen in 2013, the Lord’s words to Joseph Smith in D&C 122:7 will apply to each of us: “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
One of the great compensations of my semi-invalid state this past year has been time to read and listen to inspiring fiction. Many of the series show the slow but amazing softening of people’s hearts over time through the refiner’s fire of difficult experiences. I’ve lived long enough to see this process in the lives of so many people I know. I’ve experienced it in my own life. Paul’s word’s capture the essence:
And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (Romans 4: 3-4)
Experience can bring us hope, because we see that if we persevere long enough, trust in the Lord long enough, God’s purposes begin to unfold in our lives in an unmistakable way. Anyone who considers suicide has likely not lived long enough or looked at life hard enough to recognize that inevitable unfolding process.
Knowing this keeps us from giving up on each other or ourselves. I can trace throughout my life the Lord’s patient, loving care through all my foolishness and folly. Looking back on a rich but somewhat tempestuous life, I feel strongly the Lord’s watchful care and can say as did Nephi, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.”
So often it has been the scriptures that have pulled me back from the brink of despair and reminded me in whom I could trust. I love Isaiah’s words,
“Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
My Will vs. “Thy Will Be Done”
I know myself that those promises are faithful and true and give us every reason to trust in the Lord no matter what. The major obstacle I have found to trust is self-will–wanting things to “turn out” according to my own will, wanting to control what I can’t control. Sometimes it seems hard to trust when I just plain don’t want the hard things in my life to be happening. It is difficult to say “thy will be done” and set aside my nicely laid plans in favor of His. In Helaman 12:6 we read, “Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.”
Coming to a place of trust and surrender to God’s will is just plain hard work–the hardest work we will ever attempt. It is far harder than any other “good works” and it is the one that is absolutely essential. What a different mindset to humbly plead for God’s guidance, to know and do His will, than to either coast in deep ruts of habitual behavior or plead with the Lord to change things to be the way we want them.
I’m afraid I’ve wasted time in both of the above-mentioned modes. But when I have the presence of mind to ASK, I receive the gifts of the Spirit needed to rise above these natural man patterns. The quest of my life is to surrender my will to His, to recognize and do His will. When I accomplish it, I am at peace. When I fail, I am miserable. I’m blessed to have good friends whose example helps me in my quest.
Years ago I went to visit my dear friend Patricia the day before she went into the hospital for a hysterectomy. She told me of her recent deepening of understanding in regard to letting go of outcomes–of the trust in the Lord that gives you the freedom to say, “Whatever happens, it’s all right.” She told of the difference between praying, “Lord, get my daughter back to church,” and “Lord, please be with my daughter and reach her in any way that is best for her. Help me to love and accept her just as she is, just where she is in her development.”
Patricia said, “I’ve traditionally written a long list of questions for the New Year. The 62 I wrote last year were all about outcomes. When I started doing the same this year I stopped, and wrote only one question: Will I develop a closer relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, turn my life over to Him and learn to accept His will and follow His direction?’ With that focus, whatever happens about the 62 things (and most of them are still distressing), my faith will remain intact.” Patricia had such a calm and radiant spirit that day, and I continue to learn from her and her steadfast determination to trusther future to the Lord.
The results of turning to God are results I can trust. His promises are sure, unchangeable, like He is. The scriptures become more and more important in my life as I ponder them, reap the blessings from the reasons they give me for trusting God. When I experience the blessings of trusting, its fruits become delicious to me and I want more! When I worry, obsess over other people’s choices or what “might happen,” I am in the natural man state. When I trust God, pray, submit, seek the Lord’s will, I rise above the natural man and begin to taste the fruits of the Spirit.
Here’s an every-day example: one year, after Thanksgiving our son had to make a twelve-hour drive in a frightful storm on treacherous roads. I was quickly going into my best worry mode. However, my husband said, “I think he’ll be fine. And if anything happens, we’ll deal with it then. Why make yourself miserable over something that probably won’t happen?” We prayed for him, turned him over to the Lord, and had a lovely day. He arrived safely.
The more I experience both sides of the coin, the more appealing I find the trust mode and the less appealing I find the worry mode. It seems such a waste of time. The best news is–it’s up to me! I can choose whether to wallow in fear and worry or to bask in the sweet assurance that since all is in God’s hands, all is well.Mormon 5:23 reminds us, “Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power?”
Trust in the Lord Can Make All the Difference
Trust, such a small word, makes all the difference in the quality of our lives. I’m not here on earth to prove I can learn life’s lessons by myself, but to be brought to the position of trusting in God. The greatest lesson of all is our insatiable need for the Lord’s help. We can achieve self-mastery only by turning to the Master. We can find sufficiency only by turning to the One who is sufficient. Any experience we have, no matter how difficult, that pulls those ideas from theory into practice, is a blessed experience indeed.
Trust eclipses doubt and makes me steadfast in belief. Trust excuses me from the ludicrous impossible job of trying to fix others, fix the world, right all wrongs, and making others SEE. As a mother of many grown children, learning this trust has proved essential to my sanity. When in the trust mode I know that I am responsible only for my own quest for trust and I can be free of imposing my perceptions on anyone else.
Trust seems to be the very key to gospel living: unless I trust the Lord I will not seek His will. If I don’t trust, how can I love Him with might, mind, and strength? Unless I trust how can I say I have hope and faith? Trust is the antidote to worry and fear, the opposite of stress. Trust allows me to relax into reality and learn what is there for me to learn.
Any day we remember to say, “Preserve me, O God, for in thee I put my trust“ (Psalm 13:1) is a good day. Whatever happens, the Lord will not forsake us. His promises are sure. We have such never-ending reasons to trust the Lord. We can look to the year 2012 armed with that trust. Trust in God will give us light in the New Year and help us live with peace in our hearts regardless of the chaos in the world.
Note: To learn more about Darla and her books, Trust God No Matter What! and After My Son’s Suicide: An LDS Mother Finds Comfort in Christ and Strength to Go On, visit her website. For ebook format, go to Amazon.com.