All faithful persons at one time or another may have experiences that will cause them to question their faith. They may live through paradoxes that seem to undermine their belief systems. These experiences in the end are always explainable, when they are seen from God’s point of view. Some true accounts like the following can illustrate the wisdom of the Lord, even though the faith of the individual is tried to the limit:

Seemingly Unfulfilled Promises

A mother suddenly became extremely ill and had a heart attack. When the family realized the gravity of the situation they all came to visit her. She asked her son to give her a blessing of health. In this priesthood blessing, he felt strongly prompted to tell her that she would be completely healed. Two days later, she died. The son was devastated, and the foundation of his faith was shaken to the core!

A few weeks later another member of the family needed a blessing, and asked him for one. He declined by saying, “My blessings don’t work!” Shortly after this, the daughter of the deceased woman had a moment of enlightenment that provided understanding. Her mother appeared to her in a dream, and told her (the daughter) to tell the son to stop agonizing about that blessing, and that he had been wrong to think that his blessing hadn’t worked. The blessing was exactly what she had needed. She hadn’t required a physical healing because it was her time to die. His blessing had healed her spiritually. She explained that when she felt she might die, she was very fearful that she wasn’t worthy to enter God’s presence. His blessing prepared her for the next step; calmed her fears, filled her with peace, and prepared her to meet the Lord. She told her daughter to tell the son to realize that he HAD been inspired of the Lord.

That experience is a perfect example of how we often interpret life’s events incorrectly. Because of his experience, the son tied into doubt and fear because everything pointed to his conclusion. His personal paradigm of faith no longer made sense to him. His mother had to intervene from beyond the grave to draw his spiraling disillusionment back upward,

Unexplained setbacks

LeAnn Tucker was living in Texas and needed to make a road trip to Utah with her husband. They serviced the car and even bought new tires so that there wouldn’t be any problems. They prayed specifically that their car would be blessed to make their destination without problems and that they would arrive safely. About half way there, their tire blew out. There they were in the heat, changing a tire. LeAnn protested, “But Heavenly Father, we did everything we could to insure that our car didn’t have any problems, why did we have a flat tire? They were new!”

After 30 minutes of work, they were back on the road, and soon discovered that there had been an accident with many cars piled up on the freeway. If they hadn’t stopped when they did, they would have been in it. So, God HAD answered their prayers for safety after all.

Untimely Death

Everything was going well in Mindi Davis’ life; a good marriage, three great kids, financial security etc. She put her son in the MTC on a Wednesday morning, and on Thursday received a telephone call informing her that her husband had been killed in an accident. What an incredible shock! She received a priesthood blessing that evening from her Bishop. In the blessing, he promised her that she would be compensated for this loss. How could there be compensation for not only the loss of her husband’s life, but also the loss of her own life as she knew it? How would God keep that promise?

Several years after the fact, Mindi told me that this spiritual paradox and how it played out, had actually been one of the greatest blessings in her life. She saw her son “grow into a man,” and become a tremendous force for good at the MTC, and the rest of his mission. She saw her younger son become the “man of the house,” and take on responsibility. She and her daughter formed a bond as never before. She said she had plenty of offers from men willing to mentor her children and repair things. She also had opportunities for employment open up to her. In short, even though she missed her husband immensely, her family grew exponentially to fill the void he had left, and she could see the Lord’s hand in keeping His promise.


Radical Thinking

After Jesus miraculously fed the 5000 people, his popularity skyrocketed. People clamored to find Him. Who was this man who gave you free food and a message? The day after this unbelievable event, he again had a large crowd to hear him. He began to talk about the bread and wine that he had given the crowd the previous day, comparing it with His own body. “…Verily, I say unto, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. ” Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:53-54) Can you imagine how this doctrine was received by most of the crowd? Most of them weren’t listening with spiritual ears. What they wanted was food with their entertainment. I can imagine many of them thinking something like, “Man, this guy is really creeping me out. I’m leaving!” He used to make sense, but now he’s saying that he is blood and flesh, and that we need to eat and drink him!

What Jesus said was bizarre in the context of their lives. I’m not sure that I would have accepted it. Would you? It was extremely radical thinking and a definite leap of faith. The scriptures record that, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:66) What he spoke was truth, however. Very few made the effort to discover that he was talking about spiritual things. It was not as it seemed.

Making sense of spiritual paradox

There is an exit shortly past the Salt Lake airport which reads “Ogden/Provo Exit.” Anyone who is familiar with Utah knows that Ogden and Provo are in opposite directions. It is a bit confusing as you head down the road that says it will take you to both places. Finally, after a mile or two, there is a fork in the road; one road leads you to Ogden, and the other to Provo, making clear to you the path you wish to follow. Some times we receive direction from the Lord that may seem illogical. It doesn’t make sense initially, and rattles our spiritual senses, but if we follow the path and “road signs” outlined by the Lord, we will eventually see that He was guiding us all along, and has our perfect destination in mind.

Neal A. Maxwell said, “Just as the capacity to defer gratification is a sign of real maturity, likewise the willingness to wait for the deferred explanation is a sign of real faith and of trust spread over time.” (“Willing to Submit,” Ensign, May 1985, 71)

When are we going to trust the Lord? When will we believe that He ALWAYS has our greatest good in mind? I am convinced that He will never leave us in a dire situation one minute longer than is necessary for our maximum growth. As soon as we become ready and willing to transcend our existing paradigm and belief, the Lord will reveal His reasons to us. As we begin to understand His perspective, we will clearly see that every spiritual paradox has an explanation.

Comments welcome anne@annehintonpratt.com