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“If fish could scream there would be fewer fishermen.” Years ago, my friend, Ted Gibbons, and I arose early to go fishing in central Utah. I was thoroughly enjoying myself when he laughingly made that observation…and ruined my day! I can’t remember how many fish I caught, but I remember what he said.
How many people are hooked by the urgency of their circumstances and flounder helplessly while inside they are silently screaming?
Each of us experiences times when we feel that God is distant while we plead to him in agony for deliverance. Regardless of our best efforts to serve him and keep his commandments, we imagine that our prayers are vain. However, if we could step outside our present circumstance and see through the eyes of God, we might observe that we are traveling at light speed.
When Blessings Must Wait
My wife and I have ten children. As we have observed their roads to temple marriage, we have noted that each experience involves enormous sacrifice and some pain. Isn’t it interesting that the greatest blessings always are accompanied by the greatest price? It is as though the Lord must first mold us into something new before he can guide us into our new life of eternal possibilities.
I am reminded of Jesus’ comforting words about enduring the pain of waiting before the blessing appeared. “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy,” he promised. Then likening the waiting period to a woman in the last days of pregnancy, he said, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:21).
Every mother understands the meaning here. The final wait for the baby to be born is terribly uncomfortable, and no amount of praying can hurry the process of development. To interrupt the child’s necessary maturation would be dangerous. Then when the delivery finally arrives, the experience can be protracted and agonizing. Throughout the entire process, the mother sacrifices everything to bring forth a new life.
But when the child is born, “she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that [her child] is born into the world!”
And so we wait, silently screaming at times, not knowing the length of the development process of the blessing that the Lord is most certainly preparing.
True Love Waits
Once a young boy wrote to us about first love and the new feelings he was discovering.
I have to ask you about true love. There is a certain girl that I really like. I can't stop thinking of her (in a good way). This feeling is affecting my schoolwork, the way I communicate with her, and the way I act around other people. It's taking over my life! Is this "true love" I am feeling? If so, what should I do about it? Please answer.
Here was our answer:
Sorry. What you are feeling is not ‘true love.’ Your feelings would properly be called ‘infatuation.’ True love is, of course, a feeling, but it is so much more. True love is forged over time; true love is defined by trust, sacrifice, loyalty and patience.
The development of true love, like other blessings from God, is built on the foundation of trust, sacrifice, loyalty, and patience. And perhaps patience is the most difficult test. Patience means:
Sometimes, love requires that we wait with someone while we wait for them to change or heal. At other times, love requires that that we wait for someone while we wait for them to return to us. And often, love requires that we wait upon someone as we lovingly serve them. True love and all blessings wait!
Marking Time by Garbage Days
During forty years of marriage, my wife and I have experienced long seasons of distress when no sign of relief was in sight. Looking back, we have wondered how we ever survived such times. We adopted a standing joke that we told each other on Thursdays, as we wheeled the garbage cans to the edge of the road. “Well, we made it to another garbage day!”
Garbage day—that became the measuring stick of our survival. We felt that we were succeeding if we could just make it to another garbage day.
The joke was not so funny, however. During those protracted periods, I would often survey my life and mourn. How much of my mortal existence had I wasted on survival? How many opportunities had passed me by because I was not in a position to embrace them? Sometimes I felt that my life had been dedicated to enduring and that I had accomplished nothing of significance.
Granted, I was wallowing in self-pity, but I wonder how many of us doubt that our lives have much substance when we, too, slip into extended periods that exhaust our strength and challenge the limits of our endurance? Is our life without purpose? Is our faith in God vain?
Inching Along at Light Speed
Once, when I felt that I was slogging uphill in the mud, I dreamed that I was on an airplane flying at six-hundred miles per hour. After a while, I noticed a crippled man stand and hobble toward the front of the plane. Each difficult stride covered mere inches, and the man seemed frustrated by his slow pace.
Then suddenly I was on the ground observing the same scene from a different vantage point. Now from my new position, every step that the crippled man took spanned several miles! From his point of view, he was hardly making any progress at all; but from my point of view he was covering incredible distances.
I wonder if that is how God sees us: rocketing through space, making astonishing strides toward our blessings, deliverance, and ultimately our eternal destination.
What Profit Is It?
Speaking for God, the prophet Malachi (Malachi 3:13-15) chastised us for questioning how the Lord works with us: “Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord.