Friday, August 10, 2012

His Covenant of Peace

Effie, a woman in my ward whom I greatly admire, has said, "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape." I try to follow this Effie-ism by graciously accepting every challenge as it comes without worrying or getting anxious about the future, but this pregnancy has made it so much harder to do. These crazy hormones have caused me to worry about almost everything!

I recently read a story about a husband and wife who were confronted by a burglar in the middle of the night.  The man owned a gun and protected his wife and three young children by shooting the burglar. I thought, "What if someone breaks into my house and tries to hurt my girls? I don't own a gun! I need to learn how to shoot a gun! I need a concealed weapons permit to protect my family!" And then I thought, "But what if my kids find the gun and accidentally shoot themselves?"  These thoughts come at night while I am lying in bed trying to fall asleep.  Then I wake up my husband in a frenzy, "Landon, are all the doors locked? Are the windows closed?  What if someone comes in our house and tries to take our girls?"

And then there are the stories about babies and toddlers dying in freak accidents.  I hate hearing these stories.  They send me into a downward spiral of despair as I think about those heartbroken parents who have lost their children.  I pray for those parents and pray that my kids will not be hit by a car, drown in a pool, fall out a window ... you get the idea.

And then there are the stories about babies almost making it full-term but dying in the womb because the placenta detached or the umbilical cord wrapped around their neck. Why do people think I want to hear these? NEVER tell these stories to a pregnant woman!

Add to that all the suffering, violence, war, and abuse in this world and the future seems dark and depressing!  I want to hold my family close and hide under the covers from the world! This is where my faith comes in and saves the day. I came across the following scriptures in Isaiah:

"For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee ... And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.  In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee" (Isaiah 54: 10, 11-12).

I felt my worries wash away as I read these verses. The phrase "great shall be the peace of the children" and the promise that I shall be far from fear and terror gave me the much desired peace I was desperately yearning for. Don't we all want peace? The Lord has promised us a covenant of peace, but we must accept it.  He stands at the door and knocks, but we most open the door to Him.

“On that very night, the night of the greatest suffering that has ever taken place in the world or that ever will take place, the Savior said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). I submit to you, that may be one of the Savior's commandments that is, even in the hearts of otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints, almost universally disobeyed; and yet I wonder whether our resistance to this invitation could be any more grievous to the Lord's merciful heart” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Created for Greater Things, 2011).

Our Savior does not want us to worry! Elder Holland even said that our troubled hearts are grievous to the Lord's merciful heart. He wants us to trust in Him.  We must have faith that good things will and do happen! Despair comes from the devil, who delights in our unhappiness. We must have faith that Christ's atonement is sufficient to cover all the grief and pain in this world.  And someday, the suffering will end.  Christ will come again and all wrongs will be made right.

Of course I know that until that day comes, bad things will still happen.  Before we came to earth we accepted the challenges that come with life, knowing they were necessary to allow us to learn and grow and become like God. I was privileged to take a New Testament class from Camille Fronk Olsen while I studied at BYU.  She taught me a lesson that has stayed with me, "The Lord has not promised that you will never cry.  However, he has promised to dry your tears when you do." I know that my worrying does not help me or my family, and if something bad were to happen, the Savior would be there to pick me up.  He has always been here for me and He always will be.

Elder Holland has also said, “God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future (that sounds pretty grim and stoic); He expects you to embrace and shape the future--to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities”  (Created for Greater Things, 2011). 

In other words, we should not just 'endure to the end.'  I like to say that we should 'enjoy to the end!'  I am in my final month of pregnancy; however, the lessons I have learned about our Savior's covenant of peace will stay with me long after my baby comes. I pray they will never leave. I bear witness that those who wait upon the Lord will find peace and happiness in these troubled last days.