I will never forget the summer and fall of 2009. On June 9 my father died after suffering from dementia for over 10 years. On June 25 our 22-year-old son died unexpectedly, and less than a month later, so did my cousin. On August 13 my 82-year-old mother had open-heart surgery and began a lengthy recovery. On October 18 my 41-year-old brother died. On October 31 my husband had a massive heart attack and flat lined for eight minutes. The firefighters, paramedics, and a priesthood blessing brought him back to us.
People often asked me how we handled all of these events. My consistent answer was that we would turn to the Savior, and He cared for us. He did not leave us alone in our trials. I felt ministered to and carried by the heavens. Truly, He “has borne [my] griefs” (Mosiah 14:4).
Comfort also came in the form of family, friends, and members of our ward and stake. They took loving care of us in countless ways. Our 13-year-old granddaughter, Krystal, wrote us a letter after our son Michael’s death. She reminded us that we were not alone when she wrote, “God is carrying you.” Her letter reminded me of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 84:88: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
I gained strength by reading a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles titled “Trust in the Lord.” He said: “Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding and compassion, which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 16–17).
He said that questions such as “Why does this have to happen to me?” or “Why do I have to suffer this now?” lead us into blind alleys. Rather, Elder Scott suggests asking questions like “What am I to learn from this experience?” “Whom am I to help?” and “How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?”
I have resisted the temptation to ask, “Why?” Instead, I have asked for Heavenly Father’s guidance through my trials. He has blessed me with hope in the future, helped me to heal my heavy heart, heightened my awareness of the goodness around me, given me opportunities to serve, deepened my compassion for others, and magnified my love for family and friends.
Through it all, I have gained a testimony that our challenge is to surrender our will to our Heavenly Father because only then can we personally be refined and polished in the ways He has specifically designed for each of us.
We can strive to resist the temptation to ask, “Why?” Instead, we can ask for the Lord’s guidance.
We can accept the challenge to surrender our will to our Heavenly Father.