March 27, 2017
I've been going through a lot of hard stuff lately, including feelings of inadequacy as a missionary, homesickness, and lots of other generally negative feelings. And I've prayed for help - oh how I've prayed. But a lot of times, all I heard was silence. I've been studying from the Bible a lot lately, and one of the lessons I came across was what is often called The Parable of the Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-10). I also study with the institute manual because I've found it helps me understand what is going on better and helps give some context to Christ's teachings. For this parable, the manual includes a quote from James E. Talmage, from his book Jesus the Christ. It says,
"The Lord’s lesson was, that if man, with all his selfishness and disinclination to give, will nevertheless grant what his neighbor with proper purpose asks and continues to ask in spite of objection and temporary refusal, with assured certainty will God grant what is persistently asked in faith and with righteous intent. No parallelism lies between man’s selfish refusal and God’s wise and beneficent waiting. There must be a consciousness of real need for prayer, and real trust in God, to make prayer effective; and in mercy the Father sometimes delays the granting that the asking may be more fervent.”
I was able to better understand that the silence came, not because He didn't care or because I was doing something wrong, but because He wanted to see if I really wanted His help. He allowed me time to humble myself before Him so that I would be prepared to act on the answers he would give me. As the weeks have gone on, I have been blessed with an abundance of divine help. It has not made my situations any different, but it has provided me with comfort, an awareness that my Heavenly Father knows and loves me, and strength to continue on. At times it can even be said of me as it was said of Alma and the people in Helam, that my burdens have been made light, and that "the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15). I know that this strength comes through relying on the Atonement of Christ. I always love what Elder Bednar has taught about this strengthening aspect of the atonement.
"Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possible the remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we do things wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible for us to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone--through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.
We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own” (“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, no. 220). As the Lord declared, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end” (D&C 100:12)." (Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease, April 2014)
I know this is true. I know that God answers prayers in his own timing. I know that He loves us and is aware of us.
And I love all of you!