'Angels through sickness'

The man sat on the edge of the bed in the darkened bedroom and wondered aloud, "Why can't I get better?" He had been sick for several weeks and had been hospitalized for a period of time. He had been to several different doctors and had undergone many tests in an attempt to determine the cause of his sickness.

He had been given priesthood blessings, and many petitions through prayer and fasting had gone heavenward in his behalf.But still his illness hung on. He was anxious to feel well again, to return to his employment, and to take care of his family and Church responsibilities.

It seems to be a fact of life that in times of sickness and other afflictions, we all want a quick cure. We want to be free from pain and suffering. We want rapid recovery. Even our get-well cards express the sentiment of hoping "you get well soon," and we often grow impatient when that doesn't happen. "Being human," President Spencer W. Kimball once said, "we would expel from our lives sorrow, distress, physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves continued ease and comfort."

Certainly there is nothing wrong with wanting to be well. No one likes to be sick, to have afflictions. If severe, illnesses can be debilitating. They can cause despair and depression. They can result in heartache and the tearing of heart strings. They can wreak havoc on families and cause extreme financial hardship. They can cripple and cause death. Without an eternal perspective, such afflictions - especially those that are prolonged and unrelenting - are often seen as consuming everything in their path, showing no mercy.

But, if we close the doors upon sorrow, distress and anguish in our lives, "we might," explained President Kimball, "be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of His education." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 168.)

Each of us, during this mortal life of probation, will have to go through times of adversity, and we need to be careful we don't try to counsel the Lord. Our Heavenly Father knows the beginning from the end. We do not. Often we cannot see beyond the moment. He sees through the eternities.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." (Isa. 55:8.)

There may be lessons for us to learn that only come through long-suffering and enduring. Illness so often increases our appreciation - appreciation for our blessings, for our families, for the gospel of Jesus Christ and, especially, for the Savior Himself. As we go through our finite trials and tribulations, how can we not think of the Savior's infinite sacrifice which opens the door for us to become whole again? Through afflictions, we learn to completely trust in the Lord that whatever happens, all, eventually, will be right. We learn to be dependent upon Him, knowing that we can become spiritually healed in this life, if not physically healed.

Illness can make us appreciate just how precious life is, that this probationary period, in reality, is such a fragile, short time. It enables us to put our values in perspective, to realize what is really important. Adversity can cause us to turn both inward and outward at the same time - inward in introspection as we honestly assess our lives, and outward as we think of others and seek ways to comfort and help them.

Afflictions, with all their many faces of illness, sorrow, anguish and suffering, can be a part of the refining process of each of us. How we handle them will determine whether we stumble on them or grow from them.

Through it all, the gospel of Jesus Christ offers peace and comfort.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt. 11:28-30.

President Kimball, at another time, said: "Have you ever seen someone who has been helpless for so long that he has divested himself of every envy and jealousy and ugliness in his whole life, and who has perfected his life? . . . No pain suffered by man or woman upon the earth will be without its compensating effects if it be suffered in resignation and if it be met with patience.

"I'm grateful that my priesthood power is limited and used as the Lord sees fit to use it. . . . Sickness sometimes is a great blessing. People become angels through sickness." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 167-168.)

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed