With the changes in the ward, I’m not sure if everyone has heard this experience, but I think most know this about my wife and me. About three years ago, my wife started having trouble reading. The letters just weren’t forming words anymore for her. We both thought it was very strange so she made an appointment with her doctor. The doctor set up an appointment with a neurologist and Pam had that appointment while I was on business in New York. I remember getting a call from her while I was at dinner with some clients. I excused myself and called her back. The doctor had told her it was either a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or a brain tumor. He had scheduled an MRI two days later. I was home the next day and we went for the MRI together.
We met with the neurologist immediately following the MRI where he explained that Pam had a tumor the size of a golf ball in the left side of her brain. With the speed at which it had grown and the symptoms it had caused, the neurologist seemed fairly certain it was malignant.
News of Pam’s condition spread quickly through the ward, and two days later on Sunday, most of the ward was fasting with us.
Pam and I both had a hope of salvation and we both knew that our family would be together forever because of the covenants we had made in the temple and our faith that God would help us work through our weaknesses in this life. That troubled time was not so troubled as some might think. There were tears shed, but they were not tears of despair. Sometimes tears from the overwhelming feeling coming from the situation, but more often, tears of gratitude as we shared our faith with each other, or tears of gratitude for the outpouring of love from our friends in the ward. We both felt that the Lord was holding us in his arms and carrying us through the experience.
After many hours of prayer on that Sunday, I received revelation pertaining to my family and I received promises from the Lord. With that revelation, I was enabled to give my wife a priesthood blessing using the very words and promises that I had been given through revelation.
The surgery the following Tuesday went well. The results from the biopsy were what we expected to hear: a very aggressive multi-forma glioblastoma. The prognosis, a grim 6-9 months life expectancy. Pam and I took the information in the context of the blessing she was given. We did not dismiss the danger or the seriousness of the situation. We did not just turn off any ‘what if’ thoughts. I still had to reconcile myself to the Lord’s will if He decided that Pam was to leave me. The hope of the gospel and its eternal nature, the hope of eternal families and the trust that God would assist my family whatever may come became the foundation of peace in my life. The hope in the promises made through priesthood power strengthens and gives comfort, but only in addition to that foundation of hope in the truth of the gospel and the goodness of God.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, are an example of both hoping for and hoping in. When they were condemned to death by Nebechenezzar for refusing to worship his false god, they spoke boldly to the king:
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
There is the hope and confidence in the promise that was given them, “he will deliver us out of thine hand”, but immediately following is the foundational hope in the true gospel of God regardless of temporal circumstances or outcomes.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
So let me close by exhorting each of us to pray for the gift of hope. Hope in those principles that will help us overcome our individual challenges. Hope in prayer, in the repentance process, in the power of the atonement, hope in priesthood blessings that heal the sick or lift the soul of one in need of comfort.
And as our foundation, let us build our hope for our salvation and eternal life, so that we may live our lives in peace that comes through trusting in our God, who will deliver us.