Sunday, December 21, 2008

It Befriends us in Dark Hours

Elder Faust:

Hope is trust in God’s promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings
will be fulfilled in the future.

I think hope is one of those words that has a lot of different definitions. I like this one from Elder Faust: hope is trust in God's promises. To me, that is "tangible." However, I think that there can come a lot of times in life when we need to have hope, although we have no specific promise from God.

A few years ago, Sister Joyce Audrey Evans, a young mother in Belfast, Northern
Ireland, was having trouble with a pregnancy. She went to the hospital, where
one of the nurses told her she would probably lose the baby. Sister Evans
replied: “But I can’t give up. … You have to give me hope.” Sister Evans later
recalled: “I couldn’t give up hope until all reason for hope was gone. It was
something I owed to my unborn child.”
Three days later she had
a miscarriage. She wrote: “For one long moment, I felt nothing. Then a profound
feeling of peace flowed through me. With the peace came understanding. I knew
now why I couldn’t give up hope in spite of all the circumstances: you either
live in hope or you live in despair. Without hope, you cannot endure to the end.
I had looked for an answer to prayers and was not disappointed; I was healed in
body and rewarded with a spirit of peace. Never before had I felt so close to my
Heavenly Father; never before had I felt such peace. …
miracle of peace was not the only blessing to come from this experience. Some
weeks later, I fell to thinking about the child I had lost. The Spirit brought
to my mind the words from Genesis 4:25 [Gen.
]: ‘And she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she,
hath appointed me another seed. …’
“A few months later, I
became pregnant again. When my son was born, he was declared to be ‘perfect.’ ”
He was named Evan Seth.

At these times in our lives we need to look for the promises that we can have trust in, to give us hope. For instance, with the example above, the woman had no promise that the baby would live, and yet sahe needed hope to get her through. So what promises could she rely on? We know that God is listening to our prayers. He has promised that he loves us and is aware of us. This can give us an anchor for our hope.

Samuel Smiles wrote: “ ‘Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.’ … Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination.” 8

What a blessing is hope.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Elder Uchtdorf starts his talk (The Infinite Power of Hope) with this gripping story:

Toward the end of World War II, my father was drafted into the German army
and sent to the western front, leaving my mother alone to care for our family.
Though I was only three years old, I can still remember this time of fear and
hunger. We lived in Czechoslovakia, and with every passing day, the war came
nearer and the danger grew greater.
Finally, during the cold winter of 1944,
my mother decided to flee to Germany, where her parents were living. She bundled
us up and somehow managed to get us on one of the last refugee trains heading
west. Traveling during that time was dangerous. Everywhere we went, the sound of
explosions, the stressed faces, and ever-present hunger reminded us that we were
in a war zone.
Along the way the train stopped occasionally to get supplies.
One night during one of these stops, my mother hurried out of the train to
search for some food for her four children. When she returned, to her great
horror, the train and her children were gone!
She was weighed down with
worry; desperate prayers filled her heart. She frantically searched the large
and dark train station, urgently crisscrossing the numerous tracks while hoping
against hope that the train had not already departed.
Perhaps I will never
know all that went through my mother’s heart and mind on that black night as she
searched through a grim railroad station for her lost children. That she was
terrified, I have no doubt. I am certain it crossed her mind that if she did not
find this train, she might never see her children again. I know with certainty:
her faith overcame her fear, and her hope overcame her despair. She was not a
woman who would sit and bemoan tragedy. She moved. She put her faith and hope
into action.
And so she ran from track to track and from train to train until
she finally found our train. It had been moved to a remote area of the station.
There, at last, she found her children again.
I have often thought about that
night and what my mother must have endured. If I could go back in time and sit
by her side, I would ask her how she managed to go on in the face of her fears.
I would ask about faith and hope and how she overcame despair.

It is natural to assume that his mother was frightened, and stressed. But maybe she wasn't. Have you ever not been stressed when theoretically you should have been. Has there been a time when the Lord walked you through a difficult situation, giving you the peace you needed as you went along. Perhaps when a loved one passed away, or you lost your job, you were not overly concerned, but rather felt calm.

This is what one aspect of the atonement is all about.

In Isaiah 46:4, we learn,

I will carry, and will deliver you.

In Mosiah 24:14, he told the people of Alma,

I will ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you
cannot feel them upon your backs

In 1 Nephi 17:2:

And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live
upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their
children and were strong yea, even like the men; and began to bear their
journeyings without murmurings... and if it so be that the children of men keep
the commandments of god he doth nourish them; wherefore he did provide means for
us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.

In Isaiah 53:4,

He hath born our griefs and carried our sorrows.

In my life I have noticed that the degree to which my sorrows have been carried has a relationship to how close I am to Christ prior to the time in which I need his help.

Like the people of Limhi, if I start praying and repenting after the hard times strike, (Mosiah 21:15)

The Lord is slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities.

What do they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? If we want to feel the atoning love and peace of the Savior as we enter the difficult times that will no doubt come our way, we, prior to that need to be close to the Savior.

My Grandfather said the other day, to have a friend, you have to be a friend. This may sound like a trite cliche, but it is true. Do we want Christ as our friend?

D&C 88:3

Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts.

Perhaps President Uchtdorf's mother was perfectly at peace during the horrifying ordeal. Perhaps Christ sent his Comforter to abide in her heart. Perhaps her burdens were eased, perhaps she was carried by the Savior.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hope of Israel

I have been thinking about a particular aspect of Elder Uchdorf's talk on hope. He said,

Perhaps today I could sit by your side and by the side of any who might
feel discouraged, worried, or lonely. Today I would like to speak with you about
the infinite power of hope.

I read an article by USA Today that discussed Mormon women and depression. The reason the article gave for less depression among Mormon women was, the author proposed, perhaps, associated with their higher church attendance- suggesting increased support from others at church.

Whereas this may be true- I think that ideally, we should be less depressed, because of the hope that should fill our lives through Jesus Christ. (just a little interjection- I know that some cases of depression are unavoidable- and we cannot"hope" our way out of them. I've had post pardom- been there- done that- not judging- ever) President Uchdorf said:

Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness.

I love that simple statement. Isn't this what we are all seeking for? Happiness? The beauty of the word hope, is that it connotes that we don't necessarily have all that we want. Perhaps we don't have the relationships in our lives the way we want them. Perhaps we don't have our finances the way we want them. Whatever it is, hope can still fill our lives with happiness.

So then- what happens to our hope when we our situation changes, and we do receive what we were hoping for?

Each time a hope is fulfilled, it creates confidence and leads to greater

"But if not" as Esther would say... Sometimes it seems as though relief will never come- what then? President Uchdorf says:

And to all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely—I say
with love and deep concern for you, never give in.
Never surrender.
allow despair to overcome your spirit.
Embrace and rely upon the Hope of
Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow,
and gladdens every heart.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Joy to Everyone

A great Christmas song, check it out:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hope is...

President Uchdorf defines hope a number of different times in his recent conference talk: The Infinite Power of Hope.

Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity. These three stabilize our lives regardless of the rough or uneven surfaces we might encounter at the time.

Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness.2 Its absence—when this desire of our heart is delayed—can make “the heart sick.”

Hope is a gift of the Spirit.

It is a hope that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, we shall be raised unto life eternal and this because of our faith in the Savior.5 This kind of hope is both a principle of promise as well as a commandment,6 and, as with all commandments, we have the responsibility to make it an active part of our lives and overcome the temptation to lose hope.

Hope in our Heavenly Father’s merciful plan of happiness leads to peace,7 mercy,8 rejoicing,9 and gladness.

The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet;11 it is the foundation of our faith12 and an anchor to our souls.