Here’s a guest post from Marie in Idaho. Through her struggles and pains, she has learned that the Lord is always mindful of us. I hope you enjoy her story, and gain comfort from it like I have.
A few years ago, my husband and I were asked to help with a pioneer handcart trek for some of the youth in our church. It is an event in which the youth pull handcarts and reenact some of the experiences of the Latter Day Saint pioneers who journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley in the mid-1800’s.
As part of the trek, I was asked to play the part of one of the pioneers named Mary Ann Mellor and tell her faith-promoting story. One morning, I snuck ahead on the trail as the youth were preparing to pull their handcarts to the next destination. Later, when they caught up to me, they found me sitting on the side of the trail eating a pie. They gathered around me as I told the story of Mary Ann Mellor, as if I was her.
Mary Ann had a very difficult time crossing the plains. Because of her health problems and also extreme homesickness, she reached a point where she felt like she just couldn’t go any farther. She sat down on a rock and cried, ready to give up.
Her family couldn’t wait for her because they had to keep up with the rest of the handcart company. Her daughter Louisa couldn’t stand the thought of leaving her mother all alone, so she said she’d stay with her mom. When the company left, Louisa went a ways off to pray that her mom would have the strength of body and mind to catch up with the company.
As Louisa started walking back to her mom, she was amazed to find a pie sitting on the road. It was a miracle! She gave it to her mom who ate it happily. The pie was just what Mary Ann needed to change her attitude and give her the strength to keep going.
What struck me about this story was that the Lord didn’t take Mary Ann’s trial away. Instead, He answered Louisa’s prayer in a way that gave Mary Ann the strength and optimism to keep going.
That inspiring story made me think back over my own trials and a time when the Lord answered my prayers in an unexpected way. A few years before the trek, I was in the midst of difficult health problems. It was the most miserable years of my life as I struggled with severe pain and sickness.
One day in particular, I felt so horrible, and I was so frustrated, feeling like things would never improve. I was praying and desperately crying for help from my Heavenly Father. I did not think I could survive the pain and misery one more day. In a way, like Mary Ann, I was sitting on the side of the path of life and saying, “I’m done! I can’t go any farther!”
Like a child, I just wanted someone to make everything all right. As immature as this might sound, I thought to myself, “I want my mom.” I realized there was no way that my mom could be there to help me since she lives in another state, but right away I had the impression that Luann, my mother in-law, would know I needed her. That gave me great comfort, and I felt peace.
I knew Luann was busy working at the temple that morning and that I just needed to wait until she got done. Sure enough, right after her temple shift was over, she called me to see how I was doing. I’m usually good at holding it together and not showing my emotions, but I started crying over the phone and could barely get out the words to tell her I was not doing well. She told me she’d come right over.
She came over, and I was able to express to her my discouragement with my difficult situation. We talked and talked. It was so nice to have her there to listen, comfort me, and give me the encouragement I needed at that time. I don’t know if she realized how much the love she showed me that day helped me. It seems like such a small thing to sit and listen and show empathy, but it was exactly what I needed that day—a mother’s love. After her visit, I felt renewed strength and resolve that I could make it through my trials.
Like Mary Ann, my trials were not taken away that day. Mary Ann still had to face the treacherous path ahead. Similarly, a long road of health struggles lay ahead for me. Like Mary Ann’s miraculous pie, my Heavenly Father gave me just what I needed to give me strength to keep going.
I love the talk by Elder Bednar titled “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease.” He tells the story of Alma and his people and how they were being persecuted by Amulon. The Lord told Alma,
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs” (Mosiah 24:14).
Bednar states, “Many of us may assume this scripture is suggesting that a burden suddenly and permanently will be taken away. The next verse, however, describes how the burden was eased.”
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15; emphasis added).
The Lord is aware of our struggles and our needs. When we turn to Him in prayer, He will give us what we need to make it through life’s journey. Oftentimes, He does not take our trials away. Instead He blesses us with ‘pie,’ giving us extra strength and increased capacity to endure, made possible through Christ’s Atonement.
He will answer our prayers–do not doubt that!–but it will be in His way. The answers won’t always be as obvious as a pie lying in our path or a sweet mother-in-law coming to our rescue, but if we humbly seek, we will find our specific answer and know God loves us, for He has promised:
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand…
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.” (LDS Hymnbook 85, How Firm a Foundation)