Jun 9, 2009

A few days ago I was reading the June Ensign (which is chock full of amazing articles! Check out the ones on “Our Refined Heavenly Home”, “Leading Class Discussions”, “Granola Crumbs & Paint Cans”, woohoo, they are all fabulous this month!) article entitled “Hope: The Misunderstood Sister”. May I just say, my life was changed. My entire outlook was altered. I felt like I could begin to see clearly again.

The premise of the article is that the concept of hope is seriously misunderstood. We hope for things…we hope dinner turns out, we hope the baby stays asleep, we hope we make it on time, we hope we get that new job. But often times, those things don’t turn out. Did we not hope enough? Is hope not strong or effective enough? Or is it possible we don’t, well, really, I, don’t understand what hope is and how I can obtain it?

The last few many months I have literally been without hope. I have not been able to see a way out the financial mess we are in. I have not been able to see any way for Richard to earn more money. I have not been able to see how we can go on with him working every day except Sundays at jobs that are physically and emotionally exhausting. I have not been able to see how our children can go on missing him so desperately and wanting him to spend time with them. I have been full of fear, worry, sleepless nights, pain, and sorrow. I could not see a way out, over, or through…and so, I gave up. I gave up hoping for an answer.

Then, I opened my Ensign and read the article. The author discusses Romans 5:3-5, which says, in part, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”

The author was perplexed at the meaning of these verses and I have been as well. I know that tribulations bring patience. I have even been able to rejoice in many of my tribulations because I can see how they changed me into a better, more patient, and more loving daughter of God. For many years, one of my favorite scriptures has been James 1:2-3. I can see how God has helped some measure of patience to develop within me and how that leads to experience (or knowledge, wisdom, etc.). What I haven’t understood is how that leads to hope!

In the article, the author says:

For me, things I don’t understand about the gospel are like pieces of a larger puzzle I’m working on. If I don’t see where they fit, I put them aside and work on other parts of the picture…

And so one day, as I reexamined this particular puzzle piece, I saw a possible connection I hadn’t seen before. When we endure tribulation with faith and patience, what we experience is the Savior’s awareness of us and His love for us. We experience them through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. We receive this witness after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6).

In my own life, when I patiently endure trials, the Savior, who took upon Himself all of our ills and sorrows (see Alma 7:11–12), ministers to me through the Spirit. I experience the Savior’s tender mercies. My trials may continue, but having taken upon me the yoke of Christ, I find Him sharing my yoke, making my burdens bearable, and giving me hope. I then have strength to endure. I have assurance that all will be made right, not just in eternity but also for eternity. Hope is anything but wishful. It is expectation based on experience.

I see Hope more clearly now. She is serene. Her eyes have the deep, knowing look of someone well acquainted with sorrow, the luminosity of recently being wet with tears. Hope has the confidence of one who clearly sees a bright future even when the next hours seem fog shrouded. Hope is steady and strong, a friend I am glad to have beside me during my own trials.

Did you read that? Did it change you? It changed me dramatically. See, I knew that God had provided for us for the past 2 1/2 years since my husband’s company closed. I knew that He knew our needs and sent people in to love us, help us, and provide for us. I knew that He had opened the hearts of many, many people and inspired them to bring us food, money, clothing, and hugs at just the right time. I wish I had written down all of the miracles that He has given us, for they have been tender, perfect, and sustaining. I knew that he created ways for me to earn money to buy the little things, through my gymnastics program, selling diapers, attending births, or teaching classes. I knew that He loved us, oh so dearly. However, in the midst of knowing these things, I also could see no way out. I could see no way to keep our house, to feed our family, to have more than $5 in our checking account, to have Richard be able to spend time with us again.

Then the answer came. I have learned that God does love us and will work miracles on our behalf. Because of that knowledge, I can have faith that He will continue to do so. I still cannot see the way out, but I now have hope that He can and He does. He will help us. I know He will because He has spent so much time teaching me who He is and how He works. He has taken care of us. Regardless of what happens to our home, I know we are in His hands and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Thank you to each one of you who have been God’s hands in blessing our family. You have given us your love, your time, your money, and your food. We thank you and hope to be able to bless others the way we have been blessed.

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  1. Anne

    I just read your post on Hope and it broke my heart. I know you have been so blessed in many ways, but right now I don’t know how you keep hope going. I wish I could help you more. I wish I could take away your debt and provide a fantastic job for Richard that would pay bills, provide adequate shelter and provision, and take away your worry. I wish I could encourage and lift you up because it hurts so much to see you struggling. Even with all of that, you seem to somehow cope [even joyously many times] with your lot. Love your posts. You have much to say. [You really should have been writing all of this down for all these years!]

  2. Tracy, you have such a way with words, and I needed this post today. I am struggling SO much with Brandon being away from us so he could work at his new job, and finding out that the new job might not work out, and not knowing how we’re going to make it, and wondering how to even hope… you are amazing, and an inspiration, and I am so grateful for you. I am sorry that you have had so many trials for so long… here’s HOPING we both make it through as better women, better disciples, better wives and mothers… we will!

    • tracy

      Melinda, thank you for your kind words. What is going on with Brandon’s job? I read about you guys moving…is that not going to happen now?

      Yes! Let’s both make it through by becoming better – that is something to hope for! It would be a tragedy to have the trial AND end up less spiritual, less patient, less kind, less loving. That is a sobering thought. I am going to remember the whole point is to come closer to Christ, both in my connection with Him and my actions being like His.