I'm not a very eloquent speaker, especially when the words are coming from my heart and not my mind. But those words that are written all over my heart flow from my hands with complete ease. It's always been this way. So sometimes I don't speak up when I should. And sometimes I'm not so great at defending and sharing the truth.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself guilty of both. I sat in sacrament meeting (our church's congregational meeting where we also partake of the sacrament) listening to people bear testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I knew I should get up. I knew I had something important to share. But I didn't do it.
I'm hoping to redeem myself today.
More than fifteen years ago I went through one of the hardest times of my life. One of my dearest friends was in a fatal car accident. The experience shook me to the core, both emotionally and spiritually. And I'm ashamed to say it, but I ran. I ran away from everything that I knew to be true. I turned my back on my Savior and the principles of the gospel. It was more than I could handle.
I spent a couple of miserable years living my life that way, but through God's loving mercy I found my way back. And not only did I find my way back, but I did it with a much deeper understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the plan of our loving Father in Heaven. My foundation was solid. And I've been unshakable ever since.
But recently I found myself in that place again. The details are very different, but the feeling of despair was the same. I felt my spiritual knees buckle and I knew I couldn't stay on my feet. I had done all I'd been asked and I knew I couldn't give one more thing. I'd reached my limit. My strength was gone. I felt myself giving up. I decided I was going to turn my back and run.
The difference this time was that I could hear how crazy I sounded. Even as I uttered my feelings of despair out loud I knew it wasn't right, but I couldn't shake it. Very thankfully, I had the sense to inform my Father in Heaven this time. Our relationship is such that I speak with Him frequently and my natural reaction was to tell Him every detail of the pathetic situation I found myself in.
So I did. I cried. I begged. I asked Him where my miracle was. I told Him that I didn't have the strength to do one more thing . . . whether He was the one asking or not. I told Him I was done.
He responded almost instantly as a scripture flashed into my mind. " . . . peace be unto they 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 . . . "
Well, sure. But those words were directed to Joseph Smith. THE prophet of the restoration of the gospel. He was special. He was stronger.
Essentially I ignored the direction. I went about my business as usual, but with a feeling of desperation. I could see God's hand leading and helping everyone around me. But I couldn't see His hand extended to me. That scripture kept coming back to my mind and finally, almost screaming to myself, all of the despair came pouring out.
Is that supposed to make me feel better!? Joseph never got a reprieve. Not in this life anyway. His "small" moment lasted all of his shortened life. I can't do that. I'm at my limit. You're asking me to do more than I'm capable. I'm NOT strong enough.
My loving Father in Heaven answered instantly again on my behalf. Firm words came into my mind. Yes, you are! Hang on. Help is on the way.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
I don't know if any of you have ever passed out. It's only happened to me once, but as I was about to go down, I remember someone grabbing me underneath my arms and holding me up before all went black. I felt that way again. It was almost as if I was literally being held up as my spiritual knees buckled. I was strengthened. My situation had not changed, but my capacity to endure it had suddenly increased because I had an extra set of hands lending support. I felt a small glimmer of hope. It was real.
Look, I know that everyone tells you that God won't give you more than you can handle, but they're mistaken. He absolutely does. He has to. It's the only way He can help us to realize our need for His strength and mercy. It's the only possible way for us to learn how to rely on Him instead of on our own limited capability to endure the trials of this life.
We will absolutely be pushed until we break, whether once or multiple times. And it's at that breaking point that we make a decision. We decide whether we're going to run or whether we're going to let the Savior of mankind lift us up. If we can muster up even enough faith to shout at our loving Father in Heaven, telling Him we can't make it, telling Him that we feel ourselves quitting, help is on the way.
I bear my humble witness that you will be lifted in your times of direst need. These times of desperation are designed to reveal the loving power of God. They're there to bring light to the perfect Atonement of our perfect Brother. These times come to help us understand that we need Him. They're there to show us our weakness . . . and then to show us our strength when yoked with His mighty hands.
So if today is that day for you, the day you're certain you're going to drown, please trust me when I tell you to reach out your hand. Even if you can't see through the pain or the haze to know that someone is there waiting to grab it. Just reach out your hand. Even if you think it's the last thing you'll ever be capable of doing. And then feel free to cry tears of joy when you realize that the weight has lessened because someone else is helping to carry that load.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is an awe-inspiring reality, His gospel the power of God unto salvation. Trust in Him. And hang on for help is most surely always on the way.