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See What God Hath Done

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost …
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? …
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold …
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
[Hymn # 241]

I am writing in generalities, but I believe the following perceptions to be widely applicable to all of us, despite our different circumstances. I also write as one who is by no means an expert in understanding these principles, just someone who is constantly attempting to figure out how to apply them in her life on a continuing basis – and as one who has had plenty of opportunities to try to learn these lessons.

Each of us, while in mortality, will have moments of tribulation, discouragement, disappointment, fear, and pain. We often feel to cry unto the Lord, as did the Prophet Joseph in the Liberty Jail: “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed… Remember thy suffering saints, O our God…” (D&C 121:1–2, 6)

We yearn to hear an answer similar to Joseph’s: “My son [daughter], peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” (D&C 121:7–8)

How do we find the strength to endure and hope for eventual triumph?

We each have our own answers based on our individual situations. I suspect most of us would include things such as the support of family and friends, prayer, scripture study, personal revelation, testimony, among many others.

I have recently discovered a personal application of Alma 7:15:

“Come and fear not [don’t hesitate, second-guess yourself, become paralyzed into inaction], and lay aside every sin [along with every fear, worry, blunder, concern], which easily doth beset you [the ‘ruts’ or natural tendencies and habits into which you keep returning]… Show unto your God that ye are willing [have an honest desire] to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments [each requires action], and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism [renewing it through the sacrament].”

And what is the blessing when I do this to the best of my ability? “Whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him… he shall have eternal life.” (Alma 7:16)

These types of solutions and answers help us build on our foundation of faith and hope. I have found, however, that the “big trials” need additional boosts – constant reminders to help us continue on in the face of seemingly never-ending and insurmountable odds.

My own answers in these dark moments of uncertainty and discouragement come in a variety of ways, and I find I constantly need to be reminded of the blessings they are in my life. Invariably, I am led to my “favorites” – family, friends, good music, scriptures.

A few of my current examples that keep me afloat when life is dreary: Ray, my kids, extended family, friends, Hilary Weeks’ CD “If I Only Had Today” [phenomenal!!], “Count Your Blessings,” “Where Can I Turn for Peace?,” “I Stand All Amazed,” Matthew 11:28–30; John 14:27; D&C 122:7–9; Alma 7:11–13, 23–24. I also write a weekly blog post of my blessings, to help me maintain perspective and optimism.

These are the lifelines I grab when I am feeling tempest-tossed, discouraged, burdened, and frustrated. I find I am better able to deal with challenges and setbacks when I also focus on the Savior.

Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done …
Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by …
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high …
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

The repetition in this hymn emphasizes the importance of actively recognizing the gifts in our lives and expressing gratitude for them. I find this particularly potent when life is challenging and overwhelming. I believe one of our tests in mortality is to learn to recognize the blessings in the midst of the struggles of life. Heavenly Father does indeed bless us, even in times of distress.

Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your blessings; See what God hath done.
Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Alison Moore Smith May 1, 2009, 8:15 am

    Michelle, what a nice post.

    How do we find the strength to endure and hope for eventual triumph?

    My problem for the last number of years is that I don’t see the hope part, I only see the endure part. I have a strong testimony of the plan of salvation, but the only “eventual triumph” I believe in is ETERNAL triumph. Maybe that’s all you’re asking? The gospel simply doesn’t give us any guarantee of earthly triumph. For some life IS just a very difficult, trying slog through bad stuff. And that isn’t very hopeful to me. 🙁

  • Alison Moore Smith May 1, 2009, 1:26 pm

    This morning during family scriptures we were reading D&C 59. It discusses the promise that keeping the commandments will give peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. So depending on what your specific take is (earthly or eternal) maybe we discuss how to GET that peace we are promised.

  • Michelle D May 1, 2009, 3:08 pm

    I started to write a response, Alison, and then the computer froze. I had to walk away I was so frustrated. It was GOOD! And I lost it. Talk about a case-in-point about enduring… I will answer later. But I think you’re onto something with D&C 59 and how to GET the peace we are promised.

  • Michelle D May 1, 2009, 5:51 pm

    I was looking for a particular quote for something and came across this talk by Elder Richard G. Scott, Finding Joy in Life. It seems highly applicable to this discussion.

    I also had the following additional thought after writing this post, especially referring to this sentence:

    I believe one of our tests in mortality is to learn to recognize the blessings in the midst of the struggles of life.

    Honestly, some days I pass this test with an easy ‘A’ – while other days I feel I’m flunking miserably. I think learning to appropriately handle these fluctuations is part of the test…

  • Alison Moore Smith May 2, 2009, 3:05 am

    I agree, but frankly I don’t want any more parts of the test! How about just a simple set of equations:

    Do good stuff = blessings happen

    Do bad stuff = get slapped upside the head a little

    Now, don’t go telling me that’s Satan’s plan. It’s God’s ETERNAL plan. Sometimes I’d just like a stronger correlation between the two on EARTH. Harrumph.

  • facethemusic May 2, 2009, 7:14 am

    Alison??? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard YOU sound so frustrated/gloomy about personal earthly struggle. Not that you need to divulge anything, but I hope that whatever is testing you will resolve itself quickly– and if not, that at least you’ll find the “peace” during the struggle.

    Michelle, you quoted my favorite scripture about earthly tribulation — that passage in D&C where Joseph is pleading for God’s refuge is SOOO beautiful.
    And God’s answer is equally stirring and beautiful. I automatically feel more peaceful everytime I read it.

    Like you, music is a soothing agent for me as well. There are a few songs that I can put on — and I can’t even really explain it, but I can actually FEEL my body relaxing and almost FEEL stress leaving and peace settling in. I also feel that way when kneel to pray. I’m usually sitting during prayers, but kneeling automatically gives a different feeling for me– and as soon as I say “Heavenly Father” or “Father in Heaven”, that same feeling of pressure and stress leaves and the feeling of peace comes.

    The same thing happens when I’m holding Sara. If I’m feeling stressed out or overwhelmed with something, I can hold Sara and it all just seems to melt away for awhile. All these things– certain passages of scriptures, music, kneeling in prayer and cuddling with Sara serve as a real booster shot of peace and rejuvenation for me.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 2, 2009, 11:50 am

    To be honest,Tracy, I’m not in a serious personal struggle right now. Have been in a few. Not now.

    I guess it’s the aftermath. It’s actually living through what I intellectually knew–I guess–that has made me less optimistic. Maybe that’s not the right word. I am still optimistic about life in general, but while completely realizing that you and your whole family can sincerely be trying their very, very best to serve God, to serve others, to be charitable and honest and fair, to follow prophetic counsel, and the whole ball of wax. Very imperfectly, of course, but with real effort and real desire to just hand over everything to God–and he still might just let evil people utterly decimate you.

    Don’t ask. It’s too complicated. Someday I’ll write a book about it. I know it could be worse. I know that it would be worse if, for example, we had a huge trial because we had done something bad. Or, I don’t know, at least them I’d feel it was justice being served. So maybe I would then feel guilty, but not deserted. In many ways the latter is worse.

    But when I was younger I used to feel so protected by God. Sure, bad stuff happened. Like all the miscarriages while trying to have our family. But in the short term I could see some growth and purpose behind it. And it seemed like resolutions were close enough to manage the struggle.

    Now, I feel very vulnerable. We have Shadrach, Meshak, and Abednego–but we’ve also got Abinadi and Joseph Smith. Not to mention Emma.

    So who am I? Will I be saved or not? Who knows?

    So, now I’m just a cynic. We still have to do the right thing, but it doesn’t offer much in the short run.

  • Ray May 2, 2009, 12:06 pm

    Two of the most difficult times of our married life were after I made “righteous” choices that affected my employment.

    If faith is based on those things we can’t see or prove, tests of faith are just that – events that make no sense based on what we can see or understand. If we understand why something happened, there’s no test of faith in it.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 2, 2009, 1:04 pm

    I understand that but, as I’ve said before, I don’t believe in the “all things happen for a reason” axiom–unless that includes “because life sucks” or “some people are evil.” And that’s not much comfort. And it doesn’t even take faith to find that “purpose.”

    In other words, I don’t necessarily think all the crap that’s happened in my life is a “test of faith” at all. Both Maxwell and Nelson have talked about bad stuff happening “just because” life had bad stuff in it. In fact, I think I’d feel better to know that it was some kind of “Alison you are Job” moment. Instead of just an “Oh, did bad stuff happen to you? I was busy testing Job for his higher purpose” issue.

  • Ray May 8, 2009, 10:28 pm

    I have no idea how that relates to my comment.

  • nanacarol May 10, 2009, 11:33 pm

    Life certainly does have ups and downs. We all have our trials. Recently I have had mine and I thought it was just me. Fianlly took it to the temple last week and we had no more been in the house 15 minutes when acknowledgement was noted!!! Now I have to try and solve the problem and not let it get me down as I know it can. I am trying to figure it all out. Must mean I need to go to the temple again for the next stage.
    This is probably a horrible thing to say but going to say it anyway, when I doubt, deny, fume, wonder, try to figure out what the heck others are thinking or doing, I see the love of my Heavenly Father when I finally turn it over to him. It certainly amazes me how he shows me his love. It is not that our troubles are over, it is just enough to know “HE” cares for me!!! He show by a beautiful sunset, double and triple rainbows, the delight in my granddaughters eyes when they see me at their door, when I get phone calls in the morning of my birthday and I hear six delightful voices singing me happy birthday! These are the moments I hang on too!!!!! Not that I always remember them either!!! I am glad that Heavenly Father is trying to help me become a stronger person!

    Now that I have said that, I need your help and I am hiding it here. Someone on this site really, really needs our prayers. If prayers are not answered in the next couple of days, Kiar will be blind!!!!! I cannot for the life of me figure out what has gone wrong with our medical system here in Calif. But to deny a person help because they are overweight is a gross miscarriage of justice in my book. Three neurgolists(sp) have denied her help because they are afraid to touch her. She needs to have spinal fluid drained. Her eyes are hemmoraging as we speak. The doctor that discovered the pressure on her eyes and the build up of the fluid has done everything in his power to get her help!!! So please join me in prayer for her behalf and pray that US DAVIS in Sacramento will accept her tomorrow! Thank you so much.

  • jennycherie May 11, 2009, 4:08 am

    sending my prayers for Kiar! And nanacarol – so glad you found peace in the temple.

  • facethemusic May 11, 2009, 7:13 am

    I’ll certainly be praying for Kiar– this whole thing is just so bewildering to me. What if she walks into an ER?? If you go into an ER and tell them you’re suddenly unable to see, won’t they do all the testing? With ER’s there is no “scheduling” of appointments or “trying to get in” to see a neurologist.
    If an cat scan, MRI or neurologist is needed because the ER doctors suspect a tumor, hemmorage, aneurism etc that’s causing immident and immediate danger they just take care of it right then and there. Maybe it would be best to just show up in an ER and say “I can’t see!!!” That would probably get the quickest response- don’t you think?

  • jennycherie May 11, 2009, 7:40 am

    another thought – you may have already tried this – if you cannot convince a doctor to do what needs to be done, call your insurance company and tell them the problem you are having. If they don’t immediately find you a doctor (they will have to make some calls, but it should be done quickly), you can ask for a complex care case worker to be assigned to you and they usually understand really well how to help people get the care they need.

  • facethemusic May 11, 2009, 8:59 am

    good thought Jenn— I don’t know why I didn’t think about that earlier. Kiar’s husband is a police officer– and I know that on the few occasions when we had a problem with a doctor, a bill, something not getting covered that was suppose to be covered, all I had to do was call the benefits section at the department and they took care of it. They works as liasons between the patient/insurance/doctor’s offices and really look out for their own –they’ll hammer and hammer whenever someone is slacking or giving the officers a hard time with care. They might do some “hammering” with the doctor’s for Kiar since she’s an officer’s wife.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 11, 2009, 9:49 am

    Posted By: RayI have no idea how that relates to my comment.

    Sorry. You said, “If faith is based on those things we can’t see or prove, tests of faith are just that – events that make no sense based on what we can see or understand. If we understand why something happened, there’s no test of faith in it.”

    I said that I agree, but that because all of the evil in our lives isn’t given as a “test of faith,” realizing that sometimes we do have tests of faith isn’t helpful for those OTHER times.

    nanacarol, I am so glad you let us know about kiar. Of course we will pray for her!

    Of course I don’t know the situation completely, but I do know that sometimes doctors feel the risks due to other factors (infection, weight, chronic illness, etc.) make a particular procedure more risky than it’s worse. Could that be the case with kiar? My mother was diabetic and I know that some things that could have helped here were too risky for a diabetic, but fine for a healthy person.

  • nanacarol May 11, 2009, 12:43 pm

    Sad to say that weight is the issue. They tired the ER and it got them no where. But at that time only spinal fluid was leaking. Her eye doctor is freaking out. I will now suggest that they go thru the insurance and get a complex case manager. I tried to get her to go back to the ER last Thursday but won’t go again. I case after you have been made to feel so badly you let the chips fall where they may! I am now having to turn it all to the Lord. I know all your prayers will help too.

  • agardner May 11, 2009, 2:34 pm

    So sorry for Kiar, she’ll be in my prayers. I’ve been seeing her posts on facebook and kind of thought she was joking around. Sorry that it is much more serious than that!

  • kiar May 11, 2009, 4:06 pm

    Angie, that is just my weirdness: I laugh at it because I have no control, and the alternative is curling up into a ball and crying.

    Ok, so I shall give you the whole story.
    I have been diagnosed with “pseudotumor cerebri” which means there is too much fluid in my head, and it is pushing on my optic nerve. It fools the brain into thinking that there is a tumor, thus the symptoms such as dizzyness, nasuea, vertigo, ringing in the ears and just all around feeling crappy. I have been seen by one neurologist who is a complete jerk (and if he was actually good at what he does, I could get past that) and the second one that I was reffered to by my optometrist refused to see me on the grounds that I am too big. (I am 5’3″ and weigh 220 pounds. It is mostly in my boobs and butt, not on my spine) The woman wouldn’t even do a consult with me. So here I am, with extra fluid on my brain that is now causing my optic nerves to hemmorage, giving me blurry vision, and massive sparkly floaters in my field of vision, pretty much 24 hours a day. My left eye is the worst, and in order to see things close up, I need to close it and focus with my right. I have headaches every day, and when the weather pressure goes up and down, I get sick. Going to church is really fun, since it is at a much higher elevation, and driving up there makes my head throb and I get really fuzzy until my head “equalizes”.
    We have a call into UC Davis Medical Center, and my Optometrist is going to have a cow if they do not call me soon. He is not the kind of man that gets in a tizzy, but has told me that if this is not taken care of within the next week or so, I stand a good chance of going blind, or at least having damage to my vision field.
    The thing that really bothers me, is the fact that I have had 4 spinals/epidurals with all my births, and had No problems. I was bigger when I gave birth, and its the same kind of needle that they would use to collect spinal fluid. I have assisted in an epidural where the woman had to have the “BIG NEEDLE” and trust me, I am not that big!
    One good note, there is nothing else wrong with me medically wise, due to the blood tests that have been run.
    My MRI was clean, not tumors, or evidence of degenerative diseases, such as MS (whew!)
    The way to fix this is to lose weight, I know funny huh, but since I can’t work out and make my blood pressure go up, or I will pass out, the one way to take care of it and fast is to have gastric bypass. For those of you who don’t know me and may think that this is a cop out on my part, please be assured that I have a really hard time with any kind of medical intervention. My MIL has had to literally drag me to the hospital to get a shot for a migraine. I walk around on sprained ankles that make my leg swell up to my knee and turn purple. I hate to take any kind of medicine and the thought of having surgery makes me want to run and hide. If I end up in the hospital, its cause it is my last resort. It drives my husband crazy.
    So in a nutshell, that is what is up with me. I thank you for your prayers and thoughts.
    As I know what is going on, I will either post, or have Nana pass it on.

    Love you all!

  • facethemusic May 11, 2009, 5:15 pm

    Kiar– frankly, I’m shocked that anyone considers 5’3” and 220 to be “toooo big” that their worried about treating you. Having had an MRI, I know that the machines (the ones they have to “slide you” into) are probably limited to people under certain proportions, simply because the opening wouldn’t fit anyone over 400-500 pounds or so. And it’s certainly possible that there are some medications/treatments that could possibly be harmful to people who are above a certain weight (or even under a certain weight for that matter). But by no means is “5’3” and 220 “sooo big” that they can’t do an MRI or other testing. I’m thinking that maybe you’re dealing with some of the “California/Hollywood -elitist/hoity-toity, overweight people are stupid” kind of mentality.

  • Ray May 11, 2009, 6:39 pm

    Got it, Alison. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 11, 2009, 10:43 pm

    kiar, wow. I am so glad it’s not a tumor, but this is not fun.

    As for gastric, a close relative of mine actually had it a few years ago. It’s not really fast weight loss in the sense that it’s simply a reduced calorie based weight loss. You’re just forced to reduce the calories due to having most of you stomach removed. The big drawback is that it’s incredibly severe, has lots of side effects, AND you can pretty easily stretch that bit of your stomach back out within a few years.

    The biggest problem I see (and have seen a number of times) is that many times those who get this are those who aren’t able to discipline themselves to lose weight. The surgery forces the behavior change, but not permanently. So they do lose weight initially, but then regain it because they end up going back to the same habits as their body will accommodate it. I don’t know the statistics on this, but I have seen the regain personally on a few people.

    My relative had the old cut out your stomach kind, but I have heard there are much less extreme surgeries now, like a band, etc. I’d sure look into that before the major reconstruction of gastric bypass.

    Keep us posted. Prayers are with you!

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