Ye Shall Always Rejoice
By G.G. Vandagriff
I am ever on the lookout for things to rejoice about. Recently, I was reading a discourse by Elder Henry B. Eyring on the relationship between remembrance and gratitude. He gave the following quote from King Benjamin’s address in the Book of Mormon:
“I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance the greatness of God and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily. . . And behold I say that if ye do that ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him who created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.” (Mosiah 4:11-12)
Elder Eyring talked about remembrance as it relates to humility and further quoted President Spencer W. Kimball on the subject of journals: “Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 349)
How can we ever rejoice over our blessings if we don’t remember them? As I thought about this question, I realized that the scriptures are really nothing more than a composite of journals. So important are they considered by the Lord, that he commanded Nephi to recover those recorded on the brass plates at the cost of Laban’s life. ” ‘Tis better that one man should perish than a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.”(1 Nephi 4:13) Why would a nation perish without those records? Because those plates contained things necessary as a remembrance of the Lord’s blessings, promises, and His relationship to man.
Lehi remembered Moses as his own family was led out of Jerusalem and Nephi referred to him as well when expressing his faith that the Lord could deliver him out of the hands of Laban and allow him to obtain the brass plates. Remembrance was very important also in the prophesies of Christ’s coming.
It is not surprising that the Book of Mormon prophets were also commanded to keep a record. Have you ever wondered why there are so many accounts of wars and famines and rebellions in the Book of Mormon? They are given so that people can remember their deliverance. So that they can continually rejoice in the goodness of God and remain humble.
It is also significant that Alma begins his last words of advice to his sons by remembering his own conversion and relating it to them so that they can see the goodness of God. Of course, the most important record in the Book of Mormon is given in 3 Nephi, when all the minutia of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Nephites is related. He even includes the sacred ceremony of the sacrament as a way for them to always remember Him.
After pondering on this subject for a while, I began to think about my own stack of journals and wondered if I should start abridging and compiling them into a life history. Only one thing troubled me. How much of the truth should I tell? What do I really want my descendants to know about the perils and pitfalls of my life-my mistakes, my misfortunes, the things other people have done to harm me? I discussed this with my husband and a dear friend. Both gave me the same advice. Tell the truth. Otherwise, how will your posterity ever see how you overcame adversity, how the Lord blessed you in your trials?
But, I wondered, “Have I triumphed?” I began to read. At first it was a terribly depressing experience-almost like reading an account of the Nephite wars. Overall, partly because of experiences in my youth, partly because of my own errors, and partly because of my clinical depression, it didn’t seem like I’d led a happy life. Certainly not a life anyone would be uplifted to read about.
But then patterns began to emerge and develop. I saw accounts of blessings given and how they had been fulfilled in every detail. I read about the terrible case of Bell’s Palsy that I was stricken with and how I was healed by a priesthood blessing. The doctor was at a complete loss to explain it. He said I couldn’t imagine how lucky I was.
Then, of course, there was my greatest healing blessing-the one that gave me my last two children. My doctor had performed exploratory surgery on me after I hadn’t been able to get pregnant for three years. He found so much endometriosis, not to mention a completely blocked fallopian tube, that he just closed me up and told me I would only have a 50% chance of having a child if I underwent five to ten hours of microsurgery. It was a very risky procedure and he said he couldn’t promise me I would survive it. David and I decided against the surgery and in favor of a blessing. Twelve priesthood holders laid hands on my head and by the faith of those in the room “seen and unseen” I was healed. Two days later I conceived my daughter. My doctor was in shock. When I conceived another child almost four years later, he was beyond shock. He said it was impossible for someone with that much endometriosis to conceive a child. But our faith had been sufficient to the task and our Heavenly Father sought to bless us.
Another thing I saw was how the Lord stepped into our lives at critical junctures and blessed us with just what we needed. My husband was endeavoring to begin a law practice. We were living on savings. We had just about reached the end of our savings, when we got a telephone call from someone who wanted to buy some stock David held which he had considered worthless. The man was willing to pay $30,000 for it, but warned David that it would soon be worth much more. David chose to sell. The very next week he found out that the lawyer he had been sharing office space with was taking on a partner and David was going to have to open up his own office and hire his own secretary. We never could have made it over that hurdle or many that followed without the Lord’s direct intervention. There were many such stories.
Then there were the genealogy tales. I began to remember the countless miracles involved in discovering my family and David’s family. Some of them I have written about for Meridian. There were other miracles-actual manifestations in the temple when we did the work for these people. Never had I felt closer to the Lord than I did on those occasions when the veil was so very, very thin.
So, I have begun my life history, warts and all. I know that many of the things I have now remembered show how very close the Lord has been to me all of my life. Like everyone else, my life has been full of trials, but I can now remember enough to see all the blessings and how his matchless grace has been poured out on me. I am truly a blessed person. And I shall always rejoice when I remember to remember.
2004 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.