Despite diligent efforts in my life and in my temple marriage, I now find myself a single mother raising three children in the gospel without a father and priesthood holder in our home. Sometimes the betrayal and hurt I feel are a tangible pain, as is the loneliness that often fills my heart. But a loving Heavenly Father has compensated for my emptiness and anguish with sweet assurances from the Holy Ghost. As I have pored over the scriptures searching for guidance, I have come to know my Savior, and He has blessed my mind with understanding and peace.
Recently I read Ether 6, where the Jaredite barges cross the sea to the promised land. Although I had read this account many times before, I noticed something this time that had never stood out to me, and I felt the Spirit whisper that it had application in my life.
I noticed that the Lord gave light to the Jaredites so “they might not cross the great waters in darkness” (Ether 6:3). I thought about the great waters I must cross and the lights Heavenly Father has given me that I may be spared darkness. Among them are access to Him through prayer, the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, priesthood blessings, my patriarchal blessing, and my testimony of the gospel.
I also noticed that the scriptures mention the preparation Jared and his family had to make before this great journey. I thought about how doing our part is essential before we can expect the Lord to do His. Then the record states that they “set forth … commending themselves unto the Lord their God”—an act of faith (Ether 6:4). They prepared themselves, they used the lights the Lord provided them, and then they set off on their journey, exercising faith.
The following verses, however, affected me the most: “The Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land” (Ether 6:5). As I read this, the word towards stood out to me. Although the Lord was carrying the Jaredites forth, I wondered whether they felt their progress or whether they were more aware of “a furious wind” and the “many times [they were] buried in the depths of the sea” (Ether 6:6). Were they able to feel the Lord’s guiding hand through the “mountain waves which broke upon them,” the “great and terrible tempests,” and “the fierceness of the wind”? (Ether 6:6). Verse 8 reads, “The wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land.” It wasn’t a smooth-sailing voyage for them, even though they were chosen of the Lord, even though they were filled with faith, even though the brother of Jared had seen the Lord face-to-face. But interestingly to me, the fierce and steady winds were blowing them towards their goal all along.
I was ashamed to think of the times I have focused on the storms instead of the momentum they bring. Without them, I’d just be floating aimlessly. I came to understand that while trials are a natural part of mortality, the Lord can use the winds and waves of adversity to guide us, like the Jaredites, towards our personal promised lands.