TIP: Learn from the faith-promoting experiences of others–especially from those who are a member of your own family line.
I was reading this morning about a people who were living a fairly ordinary life, and then they were attacked. (Interesting how life sometimes goes when all is going well, and we are slow to remember the Lord.) These people remembered that they could be delivered “out of the hands of their enemies” because of THIS. They said, “for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers. And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers; and we did go forth in his might.”*
Even though these people lived thousands of years ago, the records they kept and the stories passed down from their forefathers helped them awaken to the source of strength and INsight and deliverance from their enemies that could help them beyond their own capacity. How many of us, when times get tough, remember something we may have forgotten about the strength, fortitude, resilience amid great obstacles or trials, that a family member of our own went through and rose above. There are countless stories of faith and fortitude waiting to be discovered within our own family history.
Last night I was watching the show 17 Miracles. Among my heritage are many Mormon Pioneers. The particular company of pioneers depicted in this movie left for their destination late in the season, and they endured hardships beyond comprehension. They were all just mortal men, women and children who were trying to do the best they could for their families. They faced extreme and severe circumstances with hunger, fatigue, death, deprivation, equipment failure, and so much more that called for extraordinary faith and endurance. Amidst it all, there were miracles.
During a time of extreme hunger, one woman obtained beef jerky in a miraculous way. She returned to the camp and shared with her children and others. No doubt this saved lives. At the end of the show, it tells of how one of her family members did not believe this story–even though she had sacrificed so much and endured much hardship. Later, thankfully, someone else from the company mentioned it in the presence of the one who did not believe it.
After watching the show, it seemed so sad to me that her own family member wouldn’t understand or believe which must have been life-saving and such a blessing to her. I think many faithful parents in today’s world may somehow relate to this–even though our times and unique challenges are very different. In my own way, I identify with the feeling of sacrificing your all for the sake of your family members, only to be often misunderstood or criticized for the very thing that kept you and them alive–physically, emotionally or spiritually.
It was encouraging to remember that the awareness of the value of our faith in God and fortitude amid trials and obstacles may even jump a generation or two before being rediscovered, yet our sacrifices are not lost. It may be the very thing that helps one of our posterity to be strong and encouraged amidst their own trials with faith, family, friends or circumstances.
Whose story in your family line is waiting to be known or rediscovered?
Gordon B Hinckley shared this account of the rescue of those spoken of in the movie 17 Miracles.
“It was in … desperate and terrible circumstances—hungry, exhausted, their clothes thin and ragged—that [the handcart companies] were found by the rescue party. As the rescuers appeared on the western horizon breaking a trail through the snow, they seemed as angels of mercy. And indeed they were. The beleaguered emigrants shouted for joy, some of them. Others, too weak to shout, simply wept and wept and wept.
“There was now food to eat and some warmer clothing. But the suffering was not over, nor would it ever end in mortality. Limbs had been frozen, and the gangrenous flesh sloughed off from the bones.
“The carts were abandoned, and the survivors were crowded into the wagons of the rescuers. The long rough journey of three hundred, four hundred, even five hundred miles between them and this valley was especially slow and tedious because of the storms. On November 30, 104 wagons, loaded with suffering human cargo, came into the Salt Lake Valley. Word of their expected arrival had preceded them. It was Sunday, and again the Saints were gathered in the Tabernacle. Brigham Young stood before the congregation and said:
“‘As soon as this meeting is dismissed I want the brethren and sisters to repair to their homes. …
“‘The afternoon meeting will be omitted, for I wish the sisters to … prepare to give those who have just arrived a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them and nurse them. …
“‘Some you will find with their feet frozen to their ankles; some are frozen to their knees and some have their hands frosted … ; we want you to receive them as your own children, and to have the same feeling for them’ (quoted in Hafen, Handcarts to Zion, p. 139)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 76–77; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 54).
Francis Webster, a member of the Martin Handcart Company said, “Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes! But I was in that company and my wife was in it….We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities!”
In 1996, Gordon B. Hinckley, referring to the suffering of the Martin and Willie handcart companies, said:
“I am grateful that those days of pioneering are behind us. I am thankful that we do not have brethren and sisters stranded in the snow, freezing and dying… But there are people, not a few, whose circumstances are desperate and who cry out for help and relief.
“There are so many who are hungry and destitute across this world who need help. … Ours is a great and solemn duty to reach out and help them, to lift them, to feed them if they are hungry, to nurture their spirits if they thirst for truth and righteousness.
“There are so many young people who wander aimlessly and walk the tragic trail of drugs, gangs, immorality, and the whole brood of ills that accompany these things. There are widows who long for friendly voices and that spirit of anxious concern which speaks of love. There are those who were once warm in the faith, but whose faith has grown cold. Many of them wish to come back but do not know quite how to do it. They need friendly hands reaching out to them. With a little effort, many of them can be brought back to feast again at the table of the Lord.
“… I would hope, I would pray that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love … (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 86).
INspired Action Steps: It’s now your turn on earth. Who will you lift and serve? What will be your story of faithful obedience to God? There are those in your family line who follow you. Rejoice that we live in a day of opportunity. Rejoice that we have the opportunity to choose living a life with faith in Christ being fully planted in our hearts. There are and will always be miracles. I INcourage you to faithfully use your INfluence for good, and, in doing so, you will see the hand of God unfold in your life and in the lives of others in unlimited miraculous ways.
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* Mosiah 9: 14-19
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