No one goes through life unscathed. Everyone experiences various forms of trial. The great test is how we react to those experiences. Do we view them through the eye of faith, understanding that a just and merciful God has provided an opportunity for us to grow, or do we let that trial break us and our belief and trust in God?
Personally, I think before we came to earth, we were shown the various trials we would go through (x-ref Jeremiah 1:4-5; Isaiah 6:8 for a couple examples). They were carefully designed for our eternal benefit and growth and God told us individually why they were the right trials for our souls to be sanctified and grow into the eternal beings he wanted us to become. I think we accepted those challenges and came here to earth to experience them in a body.
I think those who question why God would let something like that happen to them or curse God for their severe trials and question how there could even be a God who would let such a thing happen, will pass into the next world and have a recollection that everything which happened to them in this life was something they fully agreed to. They will want to shout, “WHY DID YOU LET THAT HAPPEN TO ME!” and God will remind them about their pre-mortal decision to accept those things and they’ll say, “oh yeah… Now I remember… Sorry about that…” I do believe God will compensate us for the things we suffer, but it’s all part of the “deal” we entered into with him that we would suffer those things to receive eternal glory.
Our lives are shaped by our beliefs and decisions from moment to moment. Each decision creates a branch of our lives that we travel down. Sometimes those branches need a little pruning and the Lord intervenes with a challenge that brings us back toward the path he knows we need to travel. Sometimes those challenges break a person and they (we) travel further away from the Lord. The Lord allows this because he has granted us our personal agency to choose how we will live. It’s rare that he intervenes in a miraculous way to transform someones life immediately. He did that for Saul when the saints of the early church were being sorely persecuted and asked for deliverance. The Lord came to Saul in a vision and transformed his life. Saul repented and became a powerful tool for the Lord.
Yet others like Laman and Lemuel saw angels and hardened their hearts and rejected the truth. They had every opportunity but rejected a return to the path the Lord knew they needed.
Obviously, most people will not experience something like that, but we have decisions to make from moment to moment about how we will spend our time, use our resources, build our relationships with others, and deal with challenges that come.
The internet contains a flood of amazing stories about challenges that someone faced that made them into something greater, but at the time of the challenge they were sorely distressed over what took place.
My own family has faced a number of severe challenges which I never expected, greatly distressed me, dropped me to my knees, and begged God for deliverance. Some of those trials lasted years and the deliverance was a slow process which eventually came about. Some we still suffer through.
Yet there were those miracles that confirmed our faith and brought to us an understanding that sometimes the Lord needs us to experience something painful for our own benefit, while other times he provides the miracle in the moment that confirms our faith and lets us know he’s looking down on us with mercy even when we don’t have immediate deliverance. What I mean is, the Lord is always merciful, always strengthening us, and he gives us the occasional miracle to help us get through the other struggles of life that we are called on to endure. The miracle confirms our faith and brings us the comfort that holds us through the endurance tests.
The scriptures contain a number of interesting passages for us to think about in this arena, and I say arena because it is mortal combat against some of these challenges.
One of the things that fascinates me is how today, people don’t talk about devils and unclean spirits possessing and afflicting people. Jesus openly talked about these things and took action on them.
Matthew 4:24 “And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.”
Matthew 10:1 “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”
Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
It’s as if our “enlightened” age has just rejected these things because science rejects religion and mocks anyone who believes in things they can’t see, the very anti-definition of faith:
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Even among believers there is tremendous doubt that these unseen and unwelcome interlopers exist and are afflicting us outside the range or role of “tempters” who try to get us to do wrong, as if they aren’t trying to fully abrogate our agency and harm and control our bodies and minds. Why don’t we talk about this more and recognize why Jesus taught it so much? It’s not like Satan has retreated in our day. He’s only gotten stronger as wickedness increases and people ignore his powers and influence.
Are we cultivating the gift of discerning of spirits? Are we even thinking about casting out these evil ones that interfere in the health and well-being of our loved ones?
As seen above, the Lord sent out his disciples to freely heal the sick and cast out devils and even raise the dead. It’s too bad the book of Acts isn’t many times larger to read of the amazing things the apostles and others did in Christ’s name and by his power. Yet that same faith and power exists in our day because of the restoration of the priesthood. There are powerful promises in scripture.
D&C 42:48. And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.
Is that in every instance? Is it truly a matter of faith? Are there other circumstances such as “not appointed unto sickness” which reflect the Lord’s will that we suffer through something? Maybe it’s to develop faith to endure and faith in God’s timing instead of just faith to be healed.
In a talk titled “Healing the Sick” given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the April 2010 conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he shared 5 factors involved in giving blessings, but first mentioned 2 things we should do before asking for blessings of healing.
You can read the whole talk for greater insight into those items, but I particularly like this quote from Brigham Young that he shared:
“When I lay hands on the sick, I expect the healing power and influence of God to pass through me to the patient, and the disease to give way. … When we are prepared, when we are holy vessels before the Lord, a stream of power from the Almighty can pass through the tabernacle of the administrator to the system of the patient, and the sick are made whole.”
Aside from the many scriptures that talk about healing the sick and administering to them, there are a couple of particular interest.
D&C 24:13. Require not miracles, except I shall command you,
except casting out devils, healing the sick, and against poisonous serpents, and against deadly poisons;
14. And these things ye shall not do,
except it be required of you by them who desire it,
that the scriptures might be fulfilled; for ye shall do according to that which is written.
These verses seem to indicate there are exceptions to the rules and gives us a lot to think about and ponder on. What kind of faith do we have? Do we have the faith to require a priesthood holder to heal us? Do they have the faith to accept that requirement from another and bless them accordingly?
As with many things in scripture, there are other verses that we have to take into account as well, which goes back to Elder Oaks’ 5th part of giving blessings…the will of the Lord. Reviewing D&C 42:48 above, a person can be healed unless they are appointed unto death. However, even in death, the Lord sometimes ordains that a greater miracle can be performed as was the case with Lazarus.
John 11:4. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
and in our day the reminder:
D&C 124:100. And what if I will that he should raise the dead, let him not withhold his voice.
The Lord also gave provision for those who don’t have the necessary faith to be healed.
43. And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy.
These instructions in essence let the person know God is still mindful of them and providing help to ease their burden and provide opportunities for service for others.
Before a healing takes place, however, there is a need to inquire of the Lord and ask permission to perform such acts. In other words, they are to be done in accordance with his will when we act in his name.
D&C 35:8. For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name.
9. And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.
Those who are thus properly administered to, subsequently act in faith to claim those blessings. President Spencer W. Kimball in an article published in 1982 entitled “President Kimball Speaks Out on Administration to the Sick” shared this story:
I learned a valuable lesson once long ago from a sweet lady, Sister Lucy Grant Cannon, who became violently ill while visiting her daughter in Arizona. We elders were promptly called, and we administered to her. The next day she was asked if she wished to be administered to again and her reply was, “No, I have been anointed and administered to. The ordinance has been performed. It is up to me now to claim my blessing through my faith.”
This is an important aspect of receiving a blessing. It may be that we are not immediately healed but the Lord desires to tutor us through inspiration that has been invoked in his name. In this way we become better acquainted with his voice in following instructions that lead us to be healed. It may even be that the Lord’s will is for a person to undergo a surgery or some process to experience something that gives them compassion for others. Our acting in faith allows us to claim the healing blessings promised.
There is a great burden on priesthood holders who act in the name of God to bless others. The Lord has issued this warning to them:
D&C 63:61 Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips—
62. For behold, verily I say, that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority.
Aside from profanity, this is also a reference to those who invoke the name of Jesus Christ in priesthood blessings. It is an awesome responsibility to speak in the name of the Lord and have God’s creations respond as if God himself spoke those words. There is no place for fraud. The only safety here is in humility and sanctification to be in tune and declare the will of the Lord on his terms, not our own.
There is much to think about here and I’m inadequate in describing these things well. My desire is only to convey hope, some direction, and inspire myself and others to obtain that faith that can require a healing blessing of others, and to live so we can be worthy mouthpieces of the Lord in declaring such blessings. Regardless of the outcomes as I grow in faith, I find great comfort and peace in this verse:
and be believing,
and all things shall work together for your good,
if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.
In a coming day, the gift of healing will be needed more than ever, along with greater than casual faith to require blessings of healing, and the faith to pronounce such blessings. It would benefit us all to have a deeper study of these topics to understand how to acquire such faith and be prepared for the coming events. They are at our doors.
Some topics of study can be found in the topical guide as well as searching the scriptures for related terms like:
Topical Guide topics:
Administrations to the Sick
(featured image by Michal Bednarek @123rf.com)
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