I have been thinking about a story Russell M. Nelson told. He is the prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He told a story in a video message about a time when he was on an airplane that developed engine problems. “We were halfway to our destination when the right engine suddenly exploded, spewing flaming fuel all over the right side of the plane. The plane was on fire careening to the earth in a spiral dive. I expected to die. Miraculously, the dive extinguished the fire. The pilot was able to restore power to the other engine and make a safe landing.” He continued talking about ways we can find peace in our lives but the part of the story that stood out to me was “miraculously, the dive extinguished the fire.” Sometimes it is in the careening, terrifying, out-of-control situation that we find the answer.
Lately I have been reading many of the writings of Neal A. Maxwell who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In writing about God and why things happen he said, “Sometimes He clearly directs; other times it seems He merely permits some things to happen. Therefore, we will not always understand the role of God’s hand, but we know enough of his heart and mind to be submissive. Thus when we are perplexed and stressed, explanatory help is not always immediately forthcoming, but compensatory help will be. Thus our process of cognition gives way to our personal submission, as we experience those moments when we learn to “be still, and know that I am God” (Ensign, November 1995).
I like this quote. There are so many things that happen that are devastating. Some to the world at large, some to people I know personally and some to my family. Many of them make me want to cry, and when I am done crying to cry some more. There is so much sadness around. But I like the thought that we know enough of God’s heart and mind to trust Him even when we don’t understand what is happening in our world. I like the thought that when a solution doesn’t seem to be quickly coming that some other form of help will be there. In John 14: 18 we read, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” He doesn’t say He will solve all of our problems, and He doesn’t say we won’t have problems. He says He will help us through them.
I haven’t written for quite a while-going on 10 months. In my last post I mentioned some family problems and I would like to say that those have cleared up but actually new ones have been added to them. Ripple effects from actions are being felt throughout my family. These are careening, terrifying, out-of-control situations in which I can see no solution, no hope for resolution, no fix. Things that make me want to move to some secluded island and pretend I don’t have any problems. But of course life doesn’t really work that way. And moving to an island doesn’t remove the problems, it just prevents me from working through them and possibly finding joy in the process. It also prevents me from learning to trust in God’s heart and mind.
In his book Not My Will, But Thine Neal A. Maxwell said, “Yet we surely understand enough to see a loving and redeeming God at work, striving to help us become as He is-a cause for our deep gratitude and joy, instead of despair and doubt, and for a willing submission to whatever He perceives will further that purpose” (p. 43). I recognize that I learn and grow through overcoming adversity more than with ease and comfort. A sword only becomes sharp by brushing against stone, not velvet! I know He is teaching me things that I need to learn. If I remember He loves me and will not leave me comfortless I am able to more humbly approach life, even problems.
If I have learned anything this last year I have learned that I have no control over what any one else does. I cannot control life or others, I can only control how I react. The scriptures teach us not to trust in the power of men but in the power of God. It was in the power of God that President Nelson trusted on that airplane. He felt peace as the plane spiraled to the earth. He reviewed his life and felt ready to meet God. He reacted with a quiet calm because he knew God’s heart and mind. The engine was on fire and the plane was spiraling to the earth but he knew God’s heart and mind. Isn’t that the answer?
So, when our lives are spiraling out-of-control and we are terrified we trust in God’s heart and mind. When there seems to be no hope of resolution, no fix we look for the ways he is helping us. When we are perplexed and stressed we search for the compensatory help that He sends. When solutions don’t seem to be coming fast enough or even at all, we see the hand of God in our lives helping us to become as He is. We recognize that it is the careening, terrifying out-or-control situations in which we learn the most and if we are still, we will feel His presence and know that He is God.
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