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Kristie Lords

 

Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional

August 14, 2012

 

 

"Know Ye Not That Ye Are in the Hands of God?"

Sister Kristie Lords

Student Honor Office Director, BYU-Idaho


 

I am grateful and humbled to be with you today. As a representative of the Student Honor Office you will be happy and relieved to know that we will not be discussing skinny jeans today. In all seriousness, I feel a great responsibility in this invitation to speak to you today and pray that the Holy Ghost will be with me, as well as with each of you in our time together.

 

From the time we are very young we are taught that when we have trials in our lives we should pray and when needed, request a priesthood blessing and everything will be okay. I testify that this is true; however, today I want to discuss with you God’s love for us when the “everything will be okay” answer to our prayers doesn’t look like what we thought it should.

 

When I say we, I really mean we. I am including all of us in attendance here, and all those who have ever thought, “this is not what I prayed for”. Because things do not always turn out how we think they should.  

 

The Bible Dictionary teaches that, “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.” 

 

I have found that it is often difficult to bring my will into correspondence with the will of the Father. When we pray and expect God to bring His will into correspondence with our will the Bible Dictionary teaches that these prayers will “remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.”


To bring our will into correspondence with God’s will and avoid unanswered prayers during our times of trial; might I suggest five gospel principles that have given me perspective and helped me to understand Gods’ will and love for me during my times of trial.

 

First, our purpose on earth is to be tried and tested. In Abraham chapter 3 verse 25, God teaches us as he taught Abraham, that the purpose of this life is to “prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;” Knowing that our purpose on earth is to be tested leads us to the conclusion that on this earth trials are inevitable.  Helaman chapter 5 verse 12 clears up any remaining doubt. Here, Helaman explained this truth to his sons, Nephi and Lehi, when he counseled them by saying, “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” 

 

I want to briefly focus on some of the specific language Helaman used. Helaman did not say if the devil sends forth his mighty winds, his shafts and his mighty storms. He said when. If would imply some uncertainty of whether or not one would be tested in this life. Instead of using if, Helaman chose to use when. By using the word when Helaman leaves no doubt that the devil will send forth his winds, his shafts, his hail, and his mighty storm to test us. It is only a matter of when.

 

In the Doctrine and Covenants section 136 verse 31 we learn the reason why we must be tried and tested. Verse 31 teaches that the Lord’s “people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom.” 

 

Knowing that our purpose on this earth is to be tested gives us perspective during our trials and prepares us to receive the glory that God has in store for us. Painful as they may be, trials are necessary, but we were never meant to face them alone. 

Second, trials help us draw nearer to God. In Hebrews chapter 12 verse 11 we are taught, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Defining chasten will help us understand what this scripture is trying to teach us. Webster’s dictionary defines chasten as 1) correcting by punishment or suffering 2) pruning of excess, pretense or falsity 3) or causing to be more humble or restrained. Dictionary.com defines chasten as inflicting suffering upon for purposes of moral improvement.

 

Regardless of which definition you choose trials are a method God uses to chasten us. He gives us trials to mold and shape us into what He wants us to be. Hebrews chapter 12 verse 6 reads “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth….” This teaches us that trials are an indication that God loves us.

 

An excellent example of drawing nearer to God through trials was the prophet Joseph Smith.  The trials Joseph Smith endured while a prisoner in the liberty jail caused him to call out to God and ask,“O God, where art thou?”, “How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye,… behold… the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants,” and finally, “how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions.”1 To which God answered saying “My son, 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;”2 and later in section 122 verse 7, “know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”


As we follow the example of the Prophet Joseph Smith and countless others our trials will draw us nearer to God. We will know for a certainty that He knows us individually and that He loves us. When we recognize these facts, even when we are being tried, we can be reassured of the third principle.  

 

God will not test us beyond the limits He knows what we can bear, which I have found, is nearly always beyond what we are comfortable with. Because God loves us and wants us to draw nearer to Him he will not give us trials that exceed our ability to bear them. In First Corinthians Chapter 10 verse 13 we learn that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be [tried] above that ye are able; but will with the [trial] also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”


One example from the Book of Mormon that illustrates this principle well is the escape of the people of Alma from their bondage to the Lamanites found in the book of Mosiah. Here, the people of Alma found themselves in bondage to the Lamanites and some of wicked King Noah’s high priests. The people of Alma were surrounded by the Lamanites and were subject to abuse and all manner of heavy burdens. Amulon and the other priests had been appointed to be the teachers over Alma and his people. They forbade the people of Alma from praying. Anyone who was caught praying was put to death.

 

It is important to remember that the people of Alma were those people who had accepted Abinadi’s message as Alma taught it to them and had been baptized. By all accounts they were faithfully striving to live the teachings of Alma as best they could and were certainly doing a better job of keeping God’s commandments than their captors, yet they were brought into bondage.

 

I think it is safe to say that the people of Alma were being sorely tested and that most if not all of them were outside of their comfort zones in bearing this trial. But God knew they could bear it. In this miserable state and under these circumstances the people of Alma “did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.”3 As they secretly poured out their hearts to the Lord he answered their prayers not as they probably expected but in accordance with His will.

 

In Mosiah chapter 24 verse 14 the Lord told them “I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” In verse 15 we read 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.” Eventually, the people of Alma escaped their bondage when the“Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon the Lamanties, yea, and all their task-masters were in a profound sleep.”4

 

God knew these peoples’ limit to bear this burden. He had previously prepared them to bear it to a certain extent. When they had reached their limit, which was well beyond what they thought they could bear, God increased their ability to bear the burden of bondage to the point that they bore it with ease.

 

Just like God knew these peoples’ limit He knows our limits and will not try us beyond what we can bear without providing a way for us to bear it. Through this method of proving and testing us God allows us the opportunity to unite with the Psalmist in saying “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:”5 With His knowledge of us He prepares us to have the strength and fortitude to bear “the mighty storms” we will face.

 

Thus, the Fourth principle is that God prepares us to face our trials. I want to share with you how I learned and can testify of the goodness of God and the reality of our Savior’s great atoning sacrifice on our behalf and how this carried me through a very difficult time in my life. It is really easy to be obedient when things are going well in the calm between the storms that represent the trials in our lives.

 

I distinctly recall one such moment of calm. It was a beautiful sunny fall afternoon and I was driving past our local golf course on the way to the grocery store.  Our last child had recently been born, a daughter after four very active sons. At that moment I felt the love of Heaven so profoundly and felt blessed beyond description. It seemed nothing could go wrong; life was very, very good. As I reflect on that moment today I am grateful for the tender mercy of that moment and the pause it gave me to appreciate the goodness of a loving Heavenly Father. And the strength it gave me to face the approaching storm.

 

From the very beginning our four sons have given us a run for our money. They were and are as active and adventurous as you can imagine, it is all I have known and I have loved every minute of it. However; active and adventurous, for our family, go hand in hand with emergency rooms and urgent care centers, sometimes including a trip to each on the same day with the same son. A tetanus shot and glue in the afternoon at the urgent care center for laceration and surgery to repair a digital nerve at the emergency room in the evening. It was an interesting moment when the nurse asked when this son had received his last tetanus shot and I responded; four hours ago.

 

When the urgent care opened in our community I may have been the only one thinking how much it would save us in emergency room costs. During, what we call our ER phase, we kept a running tally on how many days, weeks and finally months we were ER free. Before we stopped keeping track, the longest time between visits was four months. During this time we accumulated countless stitches, staples, broken arms, skull fractures, surgeries, hospitalizations, disease diagnoses, ambulance rides, and life flights.

 

Going to the ER became so routine that I knew when superglue could be used at home in lieu of stitches. In addition, as it turns out, being on a first name basis with the ER nurses and doctors can be valuable. To this day, my husband and I employ a sophisticated system to determine who “gets” to take the injured child to the emergency room. It is called Rock, Paper, Scissors. Loser goes. I can tell you that I win more than I lose.  

 

Because of these experiences we learned to navigate traumatic situations with our children, listen to the promptings of the spirit, witness miracles through the power of the priesthood, and embrace the life we have with our children.

I tell you this because these experiences helped form my foundation for what was to come. On February 15, 2005, around 4:00 in the afternoon I received a phone call from a dear friend. She said to me; Kristie, I hate to be the bearer of bad news; your husband and boys have been in an accident by our home. You need to come right away. I immediately prayed for the safety of my husband Eric, and our sons Jake and Tyson, who were all in the car. At that time Jake was 15, Tyson 12, Cody 9, Kade 7, and our daughter, Katelyn, was 5 months old.

 

Prior to the phone call, I had taken our youngest son to a friend’s house and our daughter was still in her car seat asleep. I put her in the car along with our 9 year-old son and drove the 2 short miles from our home to the scene of the accident.

 

As you drive south on this country road there is a small hill that blocks your view of the upcoming intersection.  As we came over the hill we saw numerous emergency vehicles. I was quickly diverted to the ambulance that had our son, Tyson, in it. He, I was told, was the most critical. As soon as I got in the ambulance, I saw that our good friend, a paramedic, was working on him. I was relieved because of my confidence in his abilities. I knew Tyson needed a priesthood blessing and made arrangements for a family member to meet us at the hospital. I was allowed to ride in the ambulance with Tyson, and dear friends stepped in to care for our younger children. It’s interesting what you remember at times like this; I remember being handed things from Tyson’s pockets, notes from friends, his watch, and thinking these are such ordinary things for a time like this, but I needed them with me.

 

When we arrived at the hospital, as you can imagine it was a scene of ordered chaos; I was again relieved to see doctors I knew from previous visits and that I had confidence in working on Eric, Jake, and Tyson. At some point in this chaos they were each given a priesthood blessing. Jake had been unconscious but was awake and concerned about Tyson and Eric. He sustained a broken bone on the top of his foot and a concussion. Eric was concerned about Jake and Tyson, but had significant injures that included three crushed vertebrae, a broken clavicle, a sternum that was cracked in six places, and a hip contusion. The injuries to his chest and back caused him a great deal of pain and impaired his breathing.

 

Tyson’s injuries were critical. He was intubated on arrival at the hospital, and rushed for a CT scan. During the CT scan he coded. Our good friend, the same paramedic, started CPR and was able to get his heart beating again. I was grateful to be able to be by his side while other family members attended to Eric and Jake.

 

The CT showed that Tyson had sustained a shattered spleen, multiple liver lacerations, and bone fractures. He was immediately taken into surgery. His spleen was removed and his liver was packed in an attempt to stop the bleeding. It was determined he should be life-flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. A priesthood blessing was administered before Tyson left. Arrangements were made and we were soon in Salt Lake City. Again, he was immediately taken into surgery. During the second surgery he coded multiple times and was resuscitated. I was able to be with him when he was brought into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Tyson was given a priesthood blessing and had the best medical care that was available; including IV’s, blood transfusions, platelets and clotting factors. None of this was able to stop the bleeding. His internal bleeding was so severe that it was impossible for the medical team to replace the blood he was losing.

 

My husband was not able to accompany me to Salt Lake because his injuries were so significant. It was very difficult for him and for me to be separated. A family member stayed with him during the night and I will be forever grateful that they were there with him when I called to tell him that Tyson had died in the early morning hours; eleven hours and two surgeries after the accident.

 

I can tell you that this is not what I prayed for. As I was en route to Salt Lake City I remember thinking everything would be alright but I didn’t know what side of “alright” I was going to be on. I of course, prayed for Tyson to be healed. I really wanted him to be able to show his friends the super cool scars he would have from the surgeries.  

 

Elder Oaks taught, “We do all that we can for the healing of a loved one, and then we trust in the Lord for the outcome.” Our faith must be in the Lord and submit to His will and not what we think the outcome should be.

 

I do not have the eternal perspective that our Father has; however, I trust him. There is great comfort in the words of Mormon found in Mormon chapter 5 verse 23, “know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?” and Doctrine and Covenants section 42 verse 48 “he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed”. We do not know why Tyson’s life on this earth was a short 12 and a half years but if we trust in God, we do not need to know everything.

 

I was amazed out how quickly friends and family responded when they heard about the accident.  In the Kimball Building on the second floor there is a plaque with a quote from President Kimball. It reads, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." I testify that this is true.

 

God poured out many tender mercies upon me and my family in preparing us for this trial; I had experience with hospitals, doctors, and paramedics. I knew Tyson had received excellent medical care. I was able to talk to Tyson in the ambulance before he lost consciousness, family and friends quickly surrounded us, my younger brother was in medical school at the University of Utah; he along with other family members and friends were with Tyson when he arrived. His medical knowledge was a great comfort to me. Family and friends took care of Eric, Jake, Cody and Kade while I rushed to be with Tyson. Arrangements were made so I could fly to Salt Lake and be with Tyson and arrive shortly after he died.

 

After Tyson died, kindness was again extended to our family when this same individual arranged for my husband and sons to fly to Salt Lake to be with me and Katelyn. Looking back I am still humbled by the sacrifices family, friends, and others made on our behalf. 

Finally, the Fifth principle is that, stretching our limits through trials helps us grow. President Uchtdorf taught, “adversity teaches us things we cannot learn otherwise. Adversity helps to develop a depth of character that comes in no other way. Our loving Heavenly Father has set us in a world filled with challenges and trials so that we, through opposition, can learn wisdom, become stronger, and experience joy…. It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop”.

 

Now, I would like to tell you that after Tyson’s death, our family has had a reprieve from the trials of life.  But that is not the purpose of our life on earth. Two months after Tyson died our son, Jake had a major surgery at Primary Children’s with an intense recovery. Three months after that, we were on another life flight with our son Cody to Primary Children’s. Again, we were met by family and a competent medical team. Cody was given a priesthood blessing and we witnessed a miracle. Challenges and trials continued to come.

 

I was beginning to feel like I had a bull’s eye on my back and wondered what I was doing wrong, what message was I not getting?  I was beginning to lose hope. I thought I was trying my best, I was going to church, paying my tithing, praying…. As I was lamenting all these things, I thought of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the promise the Lord gave, “My son, 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”6

 

Nine months after Tyson died we had the privilege to perform his sacred temple work. Words cannot describe the joy we felt in completing this final earthly ordinance for him that transcends this life. 

 

It has been nearly eight years since Tyson died. Our family continues to have challenges, trials, and adversity. We still have ER visits, surgeries, and hospitalizations. We seem to fall in that tricky less than 1% category. This last fall our son Kade had a routine ACL reconstruction and a meniscus repaired. As a result of that surgery he developed a joint infection. In order to eradicate the infection two additional surgeries were required to wash and clean the joint in addition, to 30 days of IV medication. Prior to the surgery my husband administered to Kade and in that blessing was a warning and a promise. Because of that blessing I was more vigilant in looking for any sign outside of the “routine”. We strive to embrace these trials and on occasion have seen humor and irony in the journey. During the daily trips for IV’s, physical therapy, infectious disease appointments, and orthopedic appointments for Kade, He and I developed a relationship that may not have happened otherwise.

 

Tyson remains a major part of our family. I testify that our trials are given to us because our Heavenly Father loves us and not because we have a bull’s eye on our backs. Our purpose here on earth IS to be tested. Our trials can help us draw nearer to God if we choose to turn to Him.

 

God will not test us beyond the limits He knows we can bear, not the limits we are comfortable with. However, He helps prepare us for those trials and provides others to help us bear our burdens. I also testify that as painful as they may be, stretching our limits through trials helps us grow - helps me to know that God has not forsaken us nor will he. For He has said, “people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them.”


I testify that Jesus is the Living Christ; He truly is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. I pray that each of us will embrace our trials and be as faithful as Job when he said, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” 7

 

In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 


1 Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-3

2 Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8

3 Mosiah chapter 24 verse 12

4 Mosiah 24:19

5 Psalms 139:23

6 D&C 121:7-8

7 Job 23:10