True faith always precedes miracles, but sometimes the answer to our faith-filled questions or desires will be “NO.” There is sublime beauty in this circumstance, because it enhances our understanding of ourselves and God. When we continue exerting faith and trust in Him even during the “no’s,” we will have new doors of spiritual awareness open that we could never have imagined.
The question isn’t always, “Do you have faith to move mountains?” The question sometimes is, “Do you have faith to leave the mountains where they are?”
The Answer I Didn’t Want
Many years ago, I was living in a place outside of the US, where I just didn’t want to be. I had been living there for years because of my husband’s employment and felt stuck in that rural environment far from family and my own ambitions. I distinctly remember one day, kneeling and praying fervently about my intense desire to move away from there. As clear as a bell, I heard words in my mind that I hated to hear,
“It will be a long time!”
When I heard that, everything in me resisted with “NOOO!” “I don’t want that! I want you to help me now!” I wanted to push that communication away and try to ignore it, but as time went on, the more clearly that message sunk into my soul.
At some point, I remember humbly relinquishing my will in a gush of emotion, saying in essence, “Ok Heavenly Father, if this is what you want, I’ll stop resisting you. Let me learn what you want me to learn here in this place!” It was the hardest thing up to that time that I had ever done, but that’s exactly what He was waiting for!
That “long time” was five more years and turned out to be a spiritual training ground for me and my family. When we learned what we needed to learn, it was time to move on; doors opened wide with a great job offer and we moved to a place where I wanted to be.
What did I learn? I learned from that experience that I needed to accept and learn from what God wants me to go through instead of resisting it; to open to peace and oneness with Him rather than fighting Him. Sometimes that is easier said than done…
Spencer W. Kimball profoundly wrote:
“All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially as we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God… It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire.” [i]
To Know That We Know
In 2001, Shelli Dimig had an excruciating experience where there was no miracle or angel to deliver her, but what happened was perhaps more powerful. She relates:
“I was laying on my bed suffering immense pain from an inflamed nerve in my cervical spine, [for over a week] all the while trying to care for my infant daughter, Grace. I was completely incapacitated by the burning sensation shooting down my right arm. I did not know how to escape the incredible pain and couldn’t fathom enduring it any longer. At that moment, in my quiet home, I raised my eyes and said out loud to Heavenly Father,
“I know you are there!”
“I did not hear a sound, a voice, or even feel a spiritual glimmer or prompting. Nothing. But I heard my voice echo those words, and I knew that I knew He was there in spite of no sign being given. I remember the desperation and that my feelings were even a bit hurt that I had no sign whatsoever that He had heard me. However, somehow over the years, this experience has repeatedly had a gigantic influence on me. Maybe it is because even in the worst of times, I KNOW that I know He is there! Perhaps I passed some type of test or reached some sort of testimony level by experiencing that. I’m not sure, but it taught me what I for sure know, and I’m grateful for the pain that day that led to this assurance.[ii]
Shelli gained what God intended her to gain. Her realization was priceless! We can also declare, “I know you’re there,” during our trials, because when we know that, we realize that eventually, we’ll be ok.
It’s All About Stretching!
The Lord gives us experiences to help us stretch. It’s a big part of our spiritual education to discover that no matter what comes at us, if we turn it to the Lord, it will ultimately be a GOOD thing.[iii] Job learned that; Abraham learned that; Joseph Smith learned that, and so can we.
Speaking of our spiritual schooling, Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:
God, and our deeper- self want us to STRETCH. How we stretch in this sphere, will define us; worlds without end!
In the following account a woman was required to stretch to her limits.
Faith to NOT Move the Mountains
In 1993, with her fifth pregnancy, Darlene Berry was informed that there would be complications. There was a good chance statistically that her baby would be born with missing limbs or other serious difficulties; but when he was born, the doctor was pleased to proclaim him “perfect.” They were so relieved and delighted initially, but later that night he started to exhibit some life-threatening problems, and doctors discovered to their utter dismay that her baby had a Hyperplastic left heart and was terminal. She and her husband were devastated! Their baby boy that looked so beautiful and perfect was dying. She recounts:
“We were placed in a room and a doctor told us that we had a choice. We could try a new experimental procedure. He would need a heart and lung transplant. We would have to have him life flighted to California from Spokane Washington. There was no guarantee that he would survive the flight or the surgery. (If he did survive, he would have to be on an anti-rejection medicine for the rest of his life, where even something as simple as a cold could kill him). OR, we could let nature take its course. We only had 10 minutes to decide. There was a life flight waiting for him. They were taking another patient and must leave soon.
“We prayed. God’s answer was to let nature take its course…
“NO! I wanted to scream! I have enough faith! He will be healed! I’ve heard of many stories where faith healed the impossible. I have faith he will be one of them…!
“He received a baby blessing in the hospital before we were to take him home. This blessing confirmed that he would NOT be numbered among those who would be miraculously healed, and we took him home. He died when he was three days old.
Darlene now sums up her excruciating experience and what she ultimately learned. She writes,
“Even though I had the faith to move mountains and be a part of the healing miracle. I was not sure I had the faith to let him go; to allow God’s will to be done. But through this trial, this experience, God helped me to acquire this faith.”[v]
These types of experiences give us the opportunity to discover for ourselves what we’re made of by seeing ourselves exert faith; seeing ourselves trust; seeing ourselves overcome tremendous hurdles with God’s help. The miracle is that we can know He is with us even though He doesn’t move the mountains we ask Him to move.
The biggest NO in this existence was when Christ begged to have His “cup” taken from Him. With all the miracles that had been granted to or orchestrated by Him (through His unparalleled faith), it still wouldn’t change God’s mind because THIS suffering had to be, and Christ humbly accepted it. That willing acceptance made all the difference in His life and still reverberates throughout the universe for our sakes.
When WE receive “no” as our answer, and in faith and acceptance allow His will to be, we too, are following the path to Godhood. You Can CONTACT me at [email protected]
[i] Spencer W. Kimball, quoting Orson F. Whitney in Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972),p. 9 Italics added.
[ii] Shelli Dimig, Story used with permission.
[iii] Doctrine and Covenants 58:4; 103:12;122:5-8;
[iv]Neal A. Maxwell, “Premortality, A Glorious Reality,” October Conference 1985 Italics added
[v] Darlene Berry, Story used with permission.