As I read a conference talk of Elder Spencer J. Condie, “Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” I realized how greatly the Lord has blessed me over the last six years, since I have been healed from my years of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I used to read talks like that, clinging to the scriptures and promises with faith that never seemed to be met with answers or fulfillment. I identified with all the Scriptural heroes and heroines who were tried mightily, but I could never identify with them when the promises the Lord made to them were fulfilled. I kept waiting as my life grew darker and darker.
I had real miracles happen in my life when I was younger, and I clung to those over the twenty-five year “drought” in my life. I knew the Lord was capable of blessing me, because I had had two giant miracles before. They were both miracles that affected my eternal life. The first was in meeting my husband by chance at a wedding far distant from where I lived and watching him over the next year and a half transform his life and embrace the Gospel. When we were married, we expected our life to be much different than it has been. He never knew that the woman he married would disappear from sight nine years later, be plunged into a life-threatening depression and not emerge for twenty-five years.
This year we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and as I contemplate the past, I cannot even imagine what life would have been like married to any lesser man. He has the compassion and patience of a man who truly endeavors to be Christ-like. The ordeal was just as hard for him as it was for me. And now, it’s over. We are reaping the blessing of hanging on all those years “by the skin of our teeth.” We are different people than we were forty years ago. We started out as two very separate individuals and have suffered separately. Because we were both striving for the same goal, we have come together at the “apex of our triangle” both journeying towards the Savior. He has healed me, healed our relationship, and blessed us abundantly.
The other great miracle that I had was the birth of my three children, particularly the last two who were born after my doctor had told me I would not have anymore. Is there anything to compare with the wonderful blessing of seeing your children grow up and cleave unto the gospel, claiming their own lives, standing on your spiritual shoulders, becoming more than you have ever been? This is a great blessing indeed. It is even greater, because in the twenty-five years I spent in my personal wilderness, they grew towards the light and developed strong testimonies of their own. Each has his or her own story, just as I have mine, and by a miracle, we have ended at the same place.
The conclusion to draw from all of this, I think, is that in those years when I was barely making it, when each day was a struggle, the Lord was leading my family and me ever closer to Him. When my mental health was restored, I realized that even though I thought the Lord had delayed in blessing me, He was actually watching me and my family become who we needed to be.
We cannot question the motives of the Lord. We don’t know the whole, eternal picture. If Rachael could have seen the posterity that she would have, the posterity that would bless the whole earth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she would have been shocked and amazed. It has been my observation that the blessings which are delayed are often the greatest. The Lord needs us to become, needs us to place everything on the altar before certain important blessings are granted. “Faith precedes the miracle,” is a statement I can testify is absolutely true.
Through the grace of Jesus Christ we are blessed in this tiny slice of eternity with all the essentials we need for eternal life. It is our job to keep our eye single to the glory of God until we are filled with his light. To have as Elder Porter said in his conference talk “ a broken heart and a contrite spirit [that is] willing to do anything and everything that God asks of [us].”
Those who have returned with honor from their missions can bear testimony to the difficulty of their missions, but also to how that difficulty in some miraculous way gave them strengths and taught them to recognize a capacity within themselves that they never knew they had. They claim the blessing, after two years of consecration, of being holier men and women with a close and intimate relationship with their Savior. Most of them say any price would be worth that.
In this season of my life, I offer hope to you that are struggling. The Lord does remember you. You will, if you continue to have a broken and a contrite spirit, be able to claim the “exceeding great and precious promises” promised by Peter (2 Peter 1:4). They may not come in the way you expect, but the Lord did not send us here to fail. All that seek eternal life shall find it. We are promised this repeatedly in the scriptures and by our modern prophets.
So prepare! Tune your spirit so that it can be ready to receive happiness and joy through the channel of our Lord’s enabling Atonement.
G.G. Vandagriff is the award-winning author of thirteen books, including Deliverance from Depression: Finding Hope and Healing Through the Atonement of Christ. Her most recent publication is The Duke’s Undoing, a Regency romance. Visit her website to find her books and to communicate with her.