On 3 January 1991 at midnight, my husband boarded a plane bound for Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Shield. We parted with promises to write as often as we could and to read our scriptures every day.
As I read the Book of Mormon with the specific purpose of finding scriptures that would encourage and uplift my husband, the sacred words took on new meaning. I began a list of what I called “Desert Shield scriptures.” In my letters to my husband, I included these scripture references and my feelings about the way they applied to his situation. I felt great comfort as I saw the promises of support and deliverance such as: “The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Ne. 1:20); “The righteous need not fear” (1 Ne. 22:17); “Wherefore, if ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day” (1 Ne. 22:31); and “O Lord wilt thou … deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? … O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever” (2 Ne. 4:31, 34).
After we endured several difficult weeks of waiting and wondering, the ground war began, and the change in my husband’s situation caused a change in my searching of the scriptures. Now I sought and found words of strength and courage, of steadfastness and hope. My letters carried the message from Jacob 3:1: “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.” I also quoted Mosiah 9:17, “Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle,” and Alma 36:27, “I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.”
My husband’s letters were full of gratitude for the uplifting spirit of these scriptures and their sustaining power. Sharing the scriptures brought us an extraordinary feeling of closeness.
We rejoiced that the war was short-lived, but the suffering and trials weren’t over yet. For my husband, the days dragged on and the sandstorms worsened. The flies became a plague, and the sun was blotted out by the black smoke of the burning oil wells. He wrote of the suffering and the smell of death all around him.
My search for scriptures applicable to his new condition was not in vain. The book of Alma was filled with the appropriate counsel: “Bear with patience thine afflictions” (Alma 26:27); “God … has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land” (Alma 26:36); “As much as ye shall put your trust in God, even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions” (Alma 38:5).
I was grateful that the scriptures offered words of wisdom, counsel, and comfort to meet the changing needs of my husband. Our joint study and sharing of the scriptures during this difficult time brought a precious spirit into our lives. Our testimonies were strengthened and our love for our Heavenly Father and understanding of his love for us were increased. This could have been the worst time of our lives, but the Lord poured out blessings to us as we searched the scriptures. We give thanks for a loving Heavenly Father who cares enough for his children to give us a guide that we can hold in our hands, refer to often for counsel and direction, and use as a road map back to his presence.