“…With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
His hands trembled and his shoulders hunched as he stepped forward to take the tray of bread. As he walked up to the stand at the front of the chapel, he glanced from side to side, making sure he was in the right place. Crossing in front of the pews, he licked his dry lips and took a deep breath. Carefully, he offered the tray to the bishop and his counselors. A gradual grin of relief spread across his face as he moved around to serve others on the stand. His first day of passing the sacrament as a new deacon was a success! He had received detailed training from the other deacons and had accepted the traditional post of serving the bishop for the first time–and he had done it! When it was over, he slid into the seat next to me. I smiled down at him and hugged him. He was thrilled, and so was I. My little boy–now a young man–had done this hard thing, and with encouragement and help from many, he was now basking in the glow of righteous accomplishment.
I couldn’t help pondering the scenario as I watched my son offer this ordinance to the congregation. I knew he needed and wanted to grow and fulfill his duties, but, man, was he nervous! Yet for all the preparing and discussing and training we could do as parents, when it came down to it, all I could do was pray for him and smile huge, encouraging smiles at him as he went along, hoping he felt our love and support. He had to do it himself. And when he did, that feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction and confidence was the blessing.
I wondered how much this personifies the experience of our Heavenly Father’s plan as He sends us forth into the world. We have to endure hard things, whether because of our own choices or because of the trials of mortality. Our Father knows it will be rough, so He offers training and preparation through Gospel learning and the Holy Ghost. He helps us become ready for impending trials. Then ultimately, it is up to us to pass through those trials. He can’t do them for us nor take those responsibilities away; we need them, we need to act on our own–always with His love and support–and do the hard things. When we can finally breathe a sigh of relief after it’s over, we’ll have greater confidence and knowledge of our own capability. We’ll have done a hard thing! And though we may have stumbled or made mistakes or even just been royally nervous through the whole thing, once we’re through, the blessings will be overflowing: joy, relief, compassion, love, confidence, empathy, knowledge, strength, and on and on.
The most beautiful thing about it is that although I couldn’t appreciably help my son as he went through this feat, our Father in Heaven CAN help us. In fact, He is always there. In Isaiah 41:10, we are taught of God’s commitment to us: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” What stronger assurance can we have of God’s constant love and support?!
Although we may feel alone in our trials, I testify that we never are. We always have the Lord’s love and access to His comfort and guidance. Life can be tough at times. But Sheri Dew’s statement that “if life were easy, it wouldn’t be hard” is strangely comforting. Life is meant to be a test, a challenge. We are all in this together, we all have trials, we each are fighting hard battles. As we lift and serve and encourage each other with kindness, and as we hold fast to the iron rod of truth in the Gospel, we can make it. We can come back to our Heavenly Family with a long sigh of relief, knowing we did our best and accomplished our tasks, fixing and repenting of mistakes along the way. We’ll be back Home, embraced by our Savior and Heavenly Parents.
And can you imagine the grand smiles of love and joy on Their faces?!