The gospel of Jesus Christ brings me joy, even in times of trial. In the spring of 2013, my husband called me at work to tell me he had been let go from the company he’d hoped to retire from. He was shocked and disappointed. Now he had to compete with young graduates. While waiting to get a new job he decided to use that free time to do some de-cluttering, organizing and fix-ups around the house. Of course, I was now forced to start organizing important documents, sorting our two daughters’ school projects, childhood’s mementos, toys and so on, something I had planned to do “someday” when I had more time or when I retired. We decided to install built-in shelving in the garage to store all the individual bins until our daughters had their own home and family.
A year later in 2014 right after the wedding of our oldest daughter, during one of his routine blood tests in preparation for his annual physical exams we found out that my husband had stage three cancer. We felt shocked and asked ourselves how the doctor missed stage one and stage two of the cancer. In our opinion, the doctor should have caught it sooner since my husband had been very proactive about his health for the past 16 years. After consulting with the Oncologist my husband underwent surgery in May. To our dismay, the recovery was rather long and complicated. Of course, we had to put all our house projects on hold during his recovery.
On March 5, 2015, we felt that instead of having my mom pick our daughter up from the school bus drop-off that we would pick her up straight from school instead and take her to the optometrist to get her routine eye exam done. After the doctor visit, we received a phone call from our bishop telling us that our house was on fire. When we reached our home, the firemen had already put out the fire and were packing up their gear. My mom, our dog and our tenants who were in the house at the time escaped the fire unharmed.
I choose to call all these events “experiences” rather than trials, as I don’t want to associate them with anything negative. You may be asking yourself why I am telling you about these events that our family experienced three years in a row. The answer is simple, I need to. I testify to you that I have never felt closer to my Heavenly Father in my life before these events.
Before all this, our family had a pretty “good life” with smart, talented children, good jobs and so on, but deep down it was boring and I was not progressing in life. I felt stuck spiritually. What our family experienced in that three years taught me the lessons I’d only heard while sitting in Sunday school; lessons such as faith, sacrifice, service, love, kindness, the power of prayers, miracles, enduring to the end, hope, perseverance, gratitude and love of our Saviour.
I witnessed our bishop and his counselors, one of which is also our home teacher, serving our family by sacrificing an entire Saturday completing the shelves in the garage that my husband could not finish while he was recovering from his cancer surgery. I felt our bishop’s love when he took our whole family, including our dog, into his home after the fire. Our daughter showed me how she could rise above it all and carried on with her singing competition three days after the fire and even won the award. I felt the love and care from members of our stake when furniture and other household items were provided for our family in order to help put our life back together. I felt our Heavenly Father’s comfort when our stake president and his family took time from their busy schedule to bring us bags of clothes and some money to get us going and also telling us the Church will help us financially until the insurance kicks in. And there were others.
Elder Bednar in his April 2014 conference address “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease”, pointed to Mosiah 24: 14-15 where we learn that sometimes we go through unusual experiences in our life only to make us stronger and that the testing of our faith produces perseverance and character. Alma and his people were persecuted by Amulon. The voice of the Lord came to these good people in their affliction and indicated: “…I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs…, And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, 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 24:14-15)
I bear witness that Jesus did come to this world, suffered for our sins and will return again. Our faith in Christ and obedience to His commandments will bring us eternal joy. Jesus has the power to calm our souls, to give us refuge and his eternal peace and joy in difficult times.