The dark clouds were hanging over me again. I couldn’t seem to see through them or get above them. The effort just seemed too hard, and the struggle to keep going without seeing the sun seemed to go on and on, like it would never end. My heart felt frigid, frozen.
Missions Are of Short Duration; So Are Life’s Cold Times; So Is Life!
One morning I plopped myself down on the couch in the living room, hungry for inspiration, for solace, for perspective. I opened a church magazine and thumbed through it, stopping to read a story of a woman who told of her experience serving a senior mission with her husband.
She hated the cold and had been called to one of the coldest places on the planet! But she and her husband prepared well, and once there, she realized she wasn’t minding the snow and storms and freezing temperatures at all. When she asked herself why, she realized it was because of the temporary nature of their stay. She realized she would have been disappointed after all their preparations if it hadn’t been really cold.
“It Came to Pass ” – Not to Stay!
The application of her story to our mortal experience was clear in my mind even before I read her take on it. No trial goes on forever! Every winter of the soul melts into spring. Even our whole time here on earth is nothing but temporary! The oft-quoted scripture “And it came to pass” is literal. Nothing here comes to stay!
The struggles we have here will pass, the problems be resolved, the tears dried. And when all is said and done, we would probably be disappointed if our mortal stay hadn’t been rough and challenging – and sometimes very cold – because we prepared for it and expected it to be that way.
So why, I wondered as I put the magazine down and went back to my household chores, do I have such a hard time remembering the temporary nature of the bad stuff in life? I know in my head, but in my heart I sometimes can’t comprehend that there is anything ahead but the same old struggle and sorrow and frustration – barely getting on top of the clouds and glimpsing the sun only to find myself completely engulfed by dark clouds again.
However, her story had struck a chord. It reminded me of the scripture “All these things will be but a small moment, and then if thou endure it well … “
Can I learn to keep the “small moment” perspective about life’s hard times? I wondered.
There Will Be an End to the Things We Want to End
I’ve heard that people commit suicide only when their brain dysfunctions to the point that they can’t comprehend that anything will change or get better for them. All they can see or feel is the darkness, which seems never-ending. The truth is, whether in this life or the next, light and truth will triumph.
I lose heart only when I forget the temporary nature of the tough stuff. When I forget that the physical limitations I live with are not forever … When I forget that the frustrations of attempting to overcome unhealthy childhood patterns and the constant barrage of Satan’s fiery darts will someday end. But Jesus said:
Retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and of his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done. And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God am endless (D&C 19:2-4).
I forget that enduring to the end means there is an end to the things we want to end! We are told to, “Be faithful to the end” (D&C 6:13), and, “Be diligent unto the end” (D&C 10:4). That means there is an end!
And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fullness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand (D&C 29:23-25.)
For any of us who turn to the Lord and not away from Him, all the bad stuff will end – either here or hereafter. I won’t struggle on the brink of depression throughout all eternity. The brain imbalances that keep me from producing sufficient “happy” chemicals are part of mortality only.
I won’t experience forever the frustrations of miscommunication and misunderstandings – of not seeing others as they truly are or having others miss seeing me as I truly am, of missing each others’ true intent. We’ve been told that communication after this life is heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind. To me that means that after this life no one can hide their truth or fail to see the truth in others. And isn’t love the biggest truth we hide?
The Best, the Happiest Stuff Does Not End
Of course there are many things we don’t want to end – the love, the learning, the ever-growing assurance of the Lord’s concern and watchful care. And they won’t.
Once we have triumphed through the Lord, and passed our probation – which has an end – the happy stuff endures forever:
Be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation (2 Nephi 33:9).
He who is found guiltless … hath if given unto him to dwell … in a state of happiness which hath no end (Mormon 7:7, emphasis mine).
Truth abideth and hath no end (D&C 88:66, emphasis mine).
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away , but shall all be fulfilled (D&C 1:38, emphasis mine).
My works have no end (D&C 29:33).
Which Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end (D&C 20:28).
The Light of Truth Chases Away the Darkness
Not seeing the truth causes me so much trouble here. The dark clouds are full of misperceptions, distortions, and Satan’s lies. Won’t the light of truth burn off every last vapor of those clouds of darkness?
Living in light and truth sounds like the most glorious existence I can think of – especially since the main truths we miss here on earth but will comprehend there in heaven are our own worth and God’s love for us.
2 Nephi 8 contains such comforting verses:
Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion ; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away. I am he; yea, I am he that comforteth you.
Our sorrow will end. The Lord is going to return and all the wickedness of this world will end. The Lord is here right now to comfort us and remind us of that.
I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion : Behold, thou art my people. (16 )
We are his people as long as we turn to Him. His love for us is endless.
Therefore, hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, and not with wine: Thus saith thy Lord, the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people: behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cups of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again. (21-22)
There will be an end to our afflictions, to being “drunken” with chemical imbalances and emotional stresses and confused minds. There will be an end to our bitter cups, to our trembling hands. There will be a time when the Lord says , “thou shalt no more drink it again.”
Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shalt no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of the neck, O captive daughter of Zion . (24-25)
All captivity will end. We will know the truth and the truth will make us free – free from sorrow and tears and illness and death and all the kinds of bondage that mortality can bring.
We don’t have to wait until the next life for exquisite tastes of all that is promised. Every time we drink of the Living Water we know. Every time we taste of the fruit of God’s love, we have a preview. Every time we feel the peace of the Spirit, we are given a witness of what is to come, and how real it is.
All we have to do is hang on to those witnesses, and remember in the dark times that the sun is there all the while, no matter how dense and dark the clouds that block our view. The thing we so often forget is that clouds are, after all, made up of life-giving water. Before long they turn into rain or snow that falls to earth and makes continued growth possible.
All the bad stuff in life is temporary, and much of it, like the clouds, is growth-producing water in disguise.
Truth, endless truth, makes it recognizable.
Can I learn to love the clouds, or at least be grateful for them? I can pray for the ability to see and remember their true purpose in my life.