Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Healing Miracle of Fasting

A little over a week ago I started getting sick because I've been under so much stress. It started with a sore throat, which I knew would lead to a cold and most likely stick around for a few weeks like it usually does for me. I was really worried and thought, "Not now!! ...I've got finals coming up and I'll be working as an EFY Counselor the week after!" I've been working really hard throughout the school term and want to do my best on finals. I've also been really looking forward to being an EFY Counselor and putting every ounce of energy into having tons of fun, learning a lot, and most of all, teaching the youth and helping them grow spiritually. I knew I wouldn't be able to perform my best during finals if I was sick, and I knew I wouldn't be able to give my all as an EFY Counselor if I wasn't feeling well, and that made me sad. I knew from past experience that even when I tried my best to eat right, get more rest and cut out sugar, colds still take at least 3 weeks to get over, for me. So I did the only thing more I knew how to do: fast for the special blessing that I would heal quicker.

I've learned in the past that whenever we ask for a special blessing we should do all within our power to make it happen, and then trust that the Lord sees our efforts and rely on Him to bring about the miracle. So, in order to do all I could to have this special prayer answered I ate as healthily as I could, got as much sleep as possible and took the best kind of cold medicine I could find.

Within days my cold was already moving faster through the stages than it normally does. On Friday (just 5 days after I fasted) I made the comment to my voice teacher that it was literally a miracle I was able to sing that day. She agreed -- the last time I got sick in April I hadn't been able to have voice lessons for 3 weeks! A little while after my voice lesson my mom called to check up on me and see how my cold was doing. I happily reported that my cold was almost gone and that it was a miracle it was going away so quickly. "What was the trick?" she asked, eager to learn the secret I had discovered. After running all the remedies through my mind I shared the one thing I had done differently than in the past: "Honestly, it was because I fasted that I would be able to recover quickly."

It was true--all the other times I've gotten sick I've tried to take cold medicine, get more rest, eat more fruits and vegetables, and I imagine it helps a lot, but still it persists for weeks. I knew I couldn't just rely on my own efforts if I wanted to get better in less than two weeks for finals. As I turned to the Lord for help, even physical help, He heard my prayers, recognized my sacrifice in fasting, and blessed me with the miracle of healing. I know that was a direct answer to prayer and that it wasn't just a coincidence.

I know Jesus Christ has the power to heal anything, whether spiritual or physical, if we exercise faith in Him. He suffered "pains and afflictions... of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. ...And he will take upon them their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy... that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7:11). Because of the Atonement, Jesus suffered everything for us, not just for our sins. Because of that He has the power to heal us physically and spiritually, and give us the strength to endure and overcome any challenge. I know that because He's done it countless times for me. And He did it again this past week as He took away my sickness and replaced it with comfort and strength. I know there is power in prayer and fasting, and miracles still happen, even to ordinary people like me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough

The other day I was feeling a little down because I was a little unsure about my future and how things would turn out. It seems like at this time in my life there's so many big decisions to make and so much at stake! I was feeling overwhelmed and looking for reassurance that everything would be ok. I said a prayer expressing my feelings and concerns, then asked Heavenly Father to help me find the comfort I needed through my scripture study that morning. After I finished my prayer I felt impressed to keep studying the scriptures from where I studied the day before, so I opened them up and the next three scriptures I read spoke directly to my heart:

"Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ... the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity...before the world was made; the same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes." (Doctrine and Covenants 38:1-2)

"He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him..." (Doctrine and Covenants 88:41)

"The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen" (1 Nephi 9:6)

Those scriptures were so comforting because I was reminded that the Lord knows everything. He knows my past, sees my future, knows my desires, hopes and dreams, and will make everything work out the way that is best and will make me most happy. I realized that I don't have to know everything; I just need to trust that He does and will lead me the way I should go to make my future bright. I have had incredible promises made to me through Priesthood Blessings about my future that give me so much hope. I just need to trust that He has "all power unto the fulfilling of all his words," and trust His timing.

Knowing that the Lord has all control gives me a lot of comfort and confidence. I just need to keep that perspective and not get too discouraged. I have nothing to complain about! The Lord has blessed me in so many incredible ways, including the undeniable witness that He is there, that He is interested in my welfare, that He cares for me and will do things for me that will bless and benefit me. That is such a precious knowledge.

After reading those comforting scriptures I looked for a Conference talk that might apply. I felt impressed to read, "All Things Work Together for Good" by Elder Martino. So many things stuck out to me, especially the line, "It is much easier to look back when a trial is over and see what we have learned from our experience, but the challenge is to gain that eternal perspective while we are going through our tests." That's exactly what I needed to do--keep an eternal perspective.

Elder Martino then outlined 5 things we can learn from the Savior's life that can help us face our own trials:
  1. Seek not to do your own will, but only the will of your Father in heaven. Remain committed, even through trials, and know that a small amount of pain now will protect you from possible greater pain in the future.
  2. Learn not to complain. (I especially needed that one! I was looking at the hard parts of my situation instead of concentrating on all the tremendous blessings and miracles that have come through my trials. That's what was getting me down. I must not complain or I will lose my eternal perspective!)
  3. Seek greater help from God.
  4. Serve and think of others in our times of trial. "When we serve others, we forget our own problems, and by working to relieve the pain or discomfort of others, we strengthen ourselves."
  5. Forgive others and do not seek to pass the blame of our situation to them. (Read his talk to learn more about each of these principles!)

Looking back over the past few months I can see how I learned and grew the most and was most able to cope with my trials when I applied these principles. When I didn't, I felt miserable, in the dark, confused, and stuck. I can think of specific times when the application of each of these principles brought healing, comfort and peace. I know that the Lord just wants me to be happy, and when I follow the principles He outlines, He helps me through my trials, gives comfort, and bring joys into my life.

I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father listened to my prayer and answered with exactly what I needed to hear. I've heard it said many times, "If you want to talk to God, pray. If you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures." I know that's true because it's happened so many times to me. The scriptures are powerful and have all the answers to life's questions and bring comfort to any concern if we just ask Heavenly Father and search for the answers. God answers prayers and will help us through anything if we just ask Him.