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tender-merciesThis week it was my youngest son, Zach’s, turn to teach a family home evening lesson.  (Family Home Evening is a weekly family meeting where we discuss family business and often have a lesson of faith.) He pulled out an Ensign magazine and taught us from one of the articles. Found here.

I’m don’t think he realized at the time, that this was such a poignant lesson to teach in our family.   The author wrote of his battles with anxiety and depression.  He spoke of feeling lost in darkness and despair, and through prayer was able to be lifted out of hopelessness if only until the next prayer.

He then spoke of reading about the account of the Jaredites crossing the “great deep”  (found in Ether 6 in the Book or Mormon.)   I have often thought about how difficult that journey must have been, almost a full year stuck in barges with no windows, being tossed about in the ocean.  They must have felt great fear and often sea sickness.  To say that it wasn’t a pleasant voyage would be an understatement.  But as I read this article with my son, something hit me differently this time.

The people who got into these barges, must have been people of great faith.  To climb into a barge, with no windows and no way of steering or controlling your own destiny must have take a great deal of trust in their leaders and faith that the Lord would truly carry them to the promised land.  Once they got in and the doors were closed, there was no going back.  You couldn’t get a month into the journey and cry “I didn’t know it was going to be like this… take me back.”  They put their lives, quite literally, into the Lords hands.

What happened on their journey is what I found interesting.

And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.

Therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.  (Ether 6:5-7)

Even though they had great enough faith to get into those barges and travel to the promised land, they still had moments of fear and anxiety.  But the Lord having compassion on them, would bring them up to the top of the waters when they were in greatest need.  However He couldn’t take away the trial all together, because they hadn’t gotten to where they needed to be yet.

The reason this had meaning to me, is that I feel it is a metaphor for so many of the things that we go through in life.  There are many decisions that I have made with the help of the Lord, but I later got scared, and went back to question Him again.  “Is this really what you want me to do?”  I needed further confirmation.  I worry that the Lord will be angry with me for not being more faithful and trust or remember the first confirmation that He gave me.  But He has always been gentle with me.  Giving me just a little more guidance and a few tender mercies to keep me going in the right direction.

I feel like I am on the other end of a particular important voyage that He led me on right now.  It is such a blessing now to be able to look back at my struggles and see how each thing that scared me and I prayed that He might take away from my life, strengthened me, and was actually for my benefit.  He blessed me to endure many hardships, but I had to travel through them.  I couldn’t just escape.

As for the man who wrote the article above, He saw that “the wind and waves” that pushed the Jaredites to the promised land were necessary, and as scary and difficult as it was for the people to deal with, it was ultimately the blessing that they needed.

We often can’t see the ending of the journey that we are called on to endure.  When we are in the middle of a trial, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual, there can be times when we feel like the Jaredites, “buried in the depths of the sea,” not being able to see how we can get out by ourselves, we can follow the advice of Elder Jeffrey R Holland.

Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. …

Remember that the Lord is always with us, even if He can’t take the trial away from us completely, He can send His spirit to be with us, and help bring us up for air, giving us strength to get through the trial.


1 Comment

  1. I was touched by your thoughts. I have often felt and been blessed by the Lord’s tender mercies. Both for myself and in answer to prayers on behalf of others, particularly those close to me,

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