“Through tears and trials, through fears and sorrows, through the heartache and loneliness of losing loved ones, there is assurance that life is everlasting. Our Lord and Savior is the living witness that such is so.”
“My children and I were at her bedside as she slipped peacefully into eternity. As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome. Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she has again become the girl of my dreams.”
No one reaches out to you for compassion or empathy so you can teach them how to behave better. They reach out to us because they believe in our capacity to know our darkness well enough to sit in the dark with them.
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.
As I turned to the scriptures, I read in 2 Nephi 9:20 that God knows “all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.” If the Lord knew beforehand what would happen to our son, then the word accident takes on a greater meaning. Yes, it was an accident, but the fact that the Lord knew that such a thing could happen in mortality made it easier for me to accept and bear. I felt trust and faith in Him. I knew I could cast my burdens on the Lord and He would sustain me (see Ps. 55:22). I realized that simply because God knows all things does not imply that He is responsible for what happens. I am grateful for the Atonement that can compensate for whatever happens and can heal all my wounds.
I don’t think I could ever have coped without the hope given us throughout the scriptures and the writings of the prophets. I love and accept the Prophet Joseph Smith’s teachings on the innocence of children and their right to inherit the celestial kingdom (see D&C 137:7). These truths are also profoundly expressed in Mosiah 3 and in Moroni 8. We find peace in the knowledge that we shall have our son again.
“In April 1993 our water heater pilot light came into contact with gasoline fumes and exploded into flames. Our two-year-old son, Thomas, was in the middle of it. The fire department put out the fire with minimum damage to our home or possessions, but our son was severely burned. Though I longed for him to live, I could see he probably wouldn’t. Within six hours of the accident, he died…
During the first few days following the accident, all I could feel was acute pain, though now I realize that the Spirit of the Lord was constantly with me. Through the Spirit it became clear to me that how I acted was my choice. I couldn’t change the facts. I couldn’t stop the pain and the hurt, but I could choose my reactions. I looked to the scriptures for everything I could find about death and the Lord’s healing balm. I couldn’t sleep at night, so I searched my mind for any hymns or scriptures that I could call to my memory to find even a moment of relief.
I knew I had to accept my son’s death and work through my grief. Though Thomas was gone, I knew I had the gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope of the Resurrection to help me. The strength of my testimony was of vital importance. I did a lot of soul-searching and determined that everything I had professed to believe throughout my life was indeed true.”
Let me share four basic contributing factors which might prevent our personal progress and church activity: (1) the constant nursing of personal hurts, (2) yielding to the sorrow of tragedy and grief, (3) being fettered with the habits and mistakes of misconduct, (4) letting fears inhibit progress.
Let us ponder these enemies of eternal progress and seek ways of gathering the courage to cast them aside.
“Fifty-eight years ago I was asked to operate upon a little girl, gravely ill from congenital heart disease. Her older brother had previously died of a similar condition. Her parents pleaded for help. I was not optimistic about the outcome but vowed to do all in my power to save her life. Despite my best efforts, the child died. Later, the same parents brought another daughter to me, then just 16 months old, also born with a malformed heart. Again, at their request, I performed an operation. This child also died. This third heartbreaking loss in one family literally undid me.
I went home grief stricken. I threw myself upon our living room floor and cried all night long. Dantzel stayed by my side, listening as I repeatedly declared that I would never perform another heart operation. Then, around 5:00 in the morning, Dantzel looked at me and lovingly asked, ‘Are you finished crying? Then get dressed. Go back to the lab. Go to work! You need to learn more. If you quit now, others will have to painfully learn what you already know.’”
“The first words Jesus spoke in His majestic Sermon on the Mount were to the troubled, the discouraged and downhearted. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ He said, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Whether you are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or among the tens of thousands listening this morning who are not of our faith, I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul. I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair.
To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know. It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave. He said it in the beginning of His ministry, and He said it in the end. He said it to believers, and He said it to those who were not so sure. He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:
‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'”