I am so grateful for the essay that Nicole recently shared about the miracles that happened in their family‘s life — how faith and prayers saved their twin baby boy. We’ve recently been sharing different Mormon bloggers’ thoughts on their belief in God, and it’s stories like Nicole’s that are an example of what strengthens my faith in God’s existence.
But that faith is also strengthened by stories of people whose situations didn’t turn out so positively.
A young couple in the ward congregation I attend comes to mind. Their precious son was born weighing only 2 pounds 9 ounces. They still aren’t sure exactly why, but he stopped growing in utero, so this was his full-term weight. He surprised the doctors by staying alive, but the next seven months were fraught with a host of issues that kept him in the hospital for most of that time.
Just a few short weeks ago, this little boy was able to come home, but not for long. Another fever and breathing problems meant another hospital stay — a stay that would be his last.
I witnessed the faith and prayers exercised in behalf of this little family. As a ward, we fasted and prayed. Every week we were invited to remember them. I know both extended families were doing all they can to exercise their faith. And oh, what faith they have!
Why? Why would a little, innocent, precious child suffer so much and then be taken from his earthly home?
This was a question that was addressed at the funeral in such a powerful way. This baby’s mom and dad both spoke, as did his grandfather. The testimony they bore is that God was with them through all of this, and that prayers were answered. That amazing things took place all around — and within.
The bishop of our congregation also spoke. And he, also, has experienced the sorrow of losing a child — twice. He shared his testimony as well that sometimes God allows hard things like this to happen because of all the good it can bring out in us. The bishop shared a story from this talk by Elder John H. Groberg. (I recommend reading the whole thing — such a great talk addressing the question of why bad things happen to good people.)
The bishop also read a story I had not heard before, but I think it sums up well what this dear family’s testimony is, and what mine is as well. The story is of a young baby who was born on a Pacific island with a serious illness. Many people pulled together, and many miracles happened, enabling this little girl to be transferred to a hospital in the United States who would be able to help her.
When the last of the miraculous details finally came into place, little Felila passed away. John Groberg was there through all of this, and when he received the news, he, too, asked “Why?” This is what he wrote:
And I was left alone, or so it seemed. I moved slowly and heavily down that dusty trail. Why? Why? After all that work and that strong faith of so many and those impressions, why?
I sensed the brightness of the sun and felt the warmth of the breeze as it lazily tossed the palm leaves and slowly shifted the silent clouds against the clear blue sky. A feeling came over me. I realized that the earth was beautiful, that life went on and was eternal. And while I cannot describe fully what happened next, part of the experience is proper to relate. The best explanation is contained in the phrase, “I was overcome by the Spirit.” It was as though one took me by the hand and led me to a high place and stood by me and said, “Look.” And I looked and beheld such beauty and magnificence as man cannot conceive. And I heard a voice, such a tender, compassionate voice—yet so unmistakably powerful—that all nature stood still and listened and obeyed.
“Come home, Felila, my daughter. Come home to the care your loved ones have sought for you. I have heard their prayers and have known their fasting and love for you, and I answer, Come home, my daughter. You have finished your mission in life. Hearts have been softened; souls have been stretched; faith has been increased. Come home now, Felila.”
He knew her! He knew her name. He knew all about her and about all those others. How perfect our Father’s love! He had heard the prayers. He had done what was best. He knew everything—which thing, though I believed, I never had supposed. In some marvelous way, which is beyond our mortal comprehension, he knows and understands all things.
I hope you can feel what I felt as I listened to this good bishop share this story and testimony. God knows us, and nothing goes on without Him knowing. Our mortal minds simply cannot comprehend all the whys and wheretofores of the difficulties of life, but God is real. God is good. His plan for His children is perfect. Because of His Son, Jesus Christ, all will live again. And because of His Son, even the greatest of sorrows can and will be turned into joy.
There is no question that we worship a God of miracles. Sometimes miracles mean we get what we pray for in ways we want, and sometimes the miracles come in coming to peace with God’s will and with the trials that are not taken away. As I have watched and walked a little with this family, I have only become more sure of the reality of God and His plan. I have witnessed and felt the strength that comes of faith, even in the hardest of times. Faith doesn’t mean that this family won’t miss and mourn the loss of their precious little one. But the miracle is that they know that they will see him again. And they know that God will walk with them until that day.