Hope Not Fear, The Lord Is In Charge
This guest essay is from Carolyn Grover, and is based on a recent sacrament meeting talk.
I have felt very strongly recently that I should, “Live with Hope not Fear,” and have made this my personal theme. So it’s very appropriate that the topic that was given to me to speak about is, “The Lord is in charge.”
When she was about a year and a half old my granddaughter Clorisa was diagnosed with leukemia. For several months she spent a lot of time in the hospital and doctor’s offices, was given shots and all kinds of medication. It was not known if she would survive. However, after five years she was declared cancer free; and to date the cancer has not returned. Therefore, I know especially from this one instance, as well as many others, that the Lord is in charge. Clorisa was saved and is now able to serve a mission for the Lord.
I am sure each one of you have had experiences in your life when you felt that the Lord was in charge.
We know our church leaders receive inspiration from the Lord as they guide and instruct us as members of the Church. President Monson often says, “There are no coincidences,” as he makes the point that his experiences in life have taught him to always look for the Lord’s hand.
Neil Maxwell stated,
“When we have an opportunity to look back at our lives from another prospective we may come to realize that the Lord micro-managed our lives without offending our agency.“
We must do our part by being obedient to the commandments, reading our scriptures, and humbly praying for His guidance.
Gordon B. Hinckley 1994 April Conference address instructs us that God is at the helm.
“Now brethren, let it be understood by all that Jesus Christ stands at the head of this church which bears His sacred name. He is watching over it. He is guiding it. Standing at the right hand of His Father, He directs this work. His is the prerogative , the power, the option to call men in His way to high and sacred offices and to release them according to His will by calling them home. He is the Master of life and death. I do not worry about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I accept these circumstances as an expression of His will.”
Is it possible to always accept this? Are there times when we are so hurt, so discouraged that we can’t possibly believe or connect with THIS circumstance having meaning? I’ve been in positions where I’ve found that sliver of hope to be dim and fading too quickly. What then, keeps us within that beautiful circle of hope, even when we can’t see it clearly? President Hinckley continues:
“God is at the helm. Never doubt it. When we are confronted with opposition, He will open the way when there appears to be no way. Our individual efforts may be humble and appear somewhat insignificant. But the accumulated good works of all, laboring together with a common purpose, will bring to pass great and wondrous accomplishments. . . “
To never doubt is a tall order. It requires of us something that we may not always feel we have within. Still, there seems to linger, even in the most difficult of times, that tiny spark called hope. That faint burning on of light and past experiences that won’t quite allow us to give up. Knowing that there is a door at the end of our humility and quiet approximations of accomplishment is the thread to cling to in dark times.
Fear is something that moves through us more deadly than a sword. The stress can make us physically ill, mentally incapacitated and spiritually sodden. Hope will accomplish the opposite. It can fill us with a depth and breadth that we can scarcely imagine when we don’t have it as our ally.
This quote brings me comfort in times of difficulty:
“First, we must never let fear and the father of fear (Satan himself) divert us from our faith and faithful living. Every person in every era has had to walk by faith into what has always been some uncertainty. This is the plan. Just be faithful. God is in charge. He knows your name and He knows your need.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, CES fireside, Sept 2004
I’ve found that as my children, who are now all adults, experience their own pains and trials, I too feel a different kind of pain. It is hard to watch those we love suffer, and be unable to kiss away the hurts and the hard times. They are living their own lives, but their lives will ever touch mine as well. Embracing that the Lord is in charge, and that He indeed knows my needs and theirs, is a balm I can rest in, my soft place to land at night after the tears are shed and the hope flickers.
Elder Holland continues:
“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. We must go forward. God expects you to have enough faith, determination, and trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. He expects you not simply to face the future; He expects you to embrace and shape the future—to love it, rejoice in it, and delight in your opportunities.”
This reminds me of one of my favorite animated tales – Finding Nemo. Dorrie the absent-minded fish speaks some profound wisdom that has pushed me forward on many instances in the last decade. She urges: “Just keep swimmin’, just keep swimmin’, swimmin’, swimmin. . .” So many times I’ve found that my trust in the future is just that, to keep on keeping on, even when I don’t know exactly where I’m going or how I’ll arrive there. To know that faith in my Lord will offer me cause to rejoice, I can take one more step.
“God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.”
I’ve re-read this several times. It sinks deeper in my soul every time. “God is eagerly waiting”. Not just a sort of resigned, “Here she goes again with the asking. . .” but eagerly. Willing and hopeful and happy to assist. Just like I wait for my children to call and ask for my advice or help or to want me to share my experience with them, He waits eagerly for ME to ask, to be open to His experience and knowledge and assistance. I just have to believe enough and hope enough to come to Him.
The scriptures urge us to turn from fear and to have confidence in the Lord.
“Let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.” D&C 101
“Fear not, little flock. … Look [to Christ] in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” D&C 6:34, 36
“Ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath … prepared for you. … Be of good cheer. … The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.” D&C 78:17-18
That “rock upon which ye are built … is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men [and women] build they cannot fall.” Helaman 5:12
Live with Confidence
What can I do then when everything seems dark without any way out of a situation that I can find? Weighing the options I see two choices. I can relinquish myself to doubt and despair and the short-sight that I can see of the future (even knowing that difficult times in my past have worked out and are now just memories and lessons I still use) or I can look forward into the fog of the future with hope and confidence in a great and beautiful day ahead for me and mine. Elder Holland agrees:
“Is there a happy future for you and your posterity in these latter days? Absolutely! Will there be difficult times when those ominous latter-day warnings and prophecies are fulfilled? Of course there will. Will those who have built upon the rock of Christ withstand winds, hail, and the mighty shafts in the whirlwind? You know they will. You have it on good word. You have it on His word! This is the Church and kingdom of God on earth. Truth has been restored. Live with confidence, optimism, faith, and devotion. Be serious about life’s challenges but not frightened or discouraged by them. Feel the joy of the Saints in the latter days—never crippling anxiety or destructive despair.”
One year ago today, my little granddaughter was born at 24 weeks. She weighed one pound and eight ounces. We didn’t think she would live through the night. Yet she did. She has been through so much (along with her parents) and yet every day she ‘just kept breathin’ . . . breathin’ . . . breathin’. . . and now she is a beautiful little one-year-old with movie-star eyelashes and a smile to melt any heart at fourteen pounds of angelic sweetness.
If nothing else, she has taught me that nothing is too hard. That every breath counts. That hope is the only way to get along in this world of lessons, trials and that finding the joy and gratitude in every baby step is essential.
“Live with HOPE not FEAR for the Lord is in charge”