A couple of weeks ago, I taught a lesson in gospel doctrine about the Savior’s experience leading up to and in Gethsemane, when He prays, “Thy will be done.” Since then, I have thought a lot about the concept of praying “thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42) as it applies to my life.
Two people I love most in the world need things I cannot give them: Cory needs to come home and Kevin needs a book agent. My body aches; sometimes it physically hurts so much because I cannot make these things happen for them. I have shed many a tear pleading with Heavenly Father for these blessings. Some days it is hard to sincerely say, “thy will be done” because what I truly want is for my will to be done.
Our son, Cory, appears before the parole board on Wednesday. We’ve prayed and prayed and fasted that he will be released this time around. We’ve sent impassioned pleas to the board with an outlined plan for his success if he is released. I enrolled him in Pathway (college courses through BYU-Idaho) and Institute for the fall, with the faith that he will be released in time to attend. I’ve rehearsed with Cory how he might answer the questions they will ask. I’ve done everything I can do and now I have to turn it over to Heavenly Father and say, “thy will be done.”
Elder Richard G. Scott said:
“It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result…”
Elder Scott went on to say,
“This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ… To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Proverbs 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience” (General Conference, Oct 1995).
I do have a testimony of this concept. Last year we went through a similar exercise hoping Cory would be released. Then, too, we prayed, “thy will be done,” but I also prayed in my heart “please give this to us.”
When Cory was not granted parole, I was sad, but to be honest, I was also a little relieved because I was not sure I was ready for a return to some of the craziness he brought into our lives. Fortunately, Heavenly Father knew best and did not answer our prayers for his release.
I say fortunately because we could never have anticipated the blessings that would come of his remaining incarcerated for another year. In that time, Cory was able to complete a life skills class that helped us all gain a better understanding of how to cope with his problems resulting from abuse and growing up without a family in foster care. Our conversations after some of the lessons were invaluable.
At the completion of the course he received a certificate. He was so proud to send it to us, taking great care to obtain a large mailing envelope so it would not be folded or creased. I don’t think he had ever received a certificate or award for an accomplishment before. I sometimes forget all those little things he missed as a child.
And then there are my weekly letters teaching him the gospel and telling him I am proud of the changes he is trying to make and that I love him unconditionally. This past year, he began studying the scriptures and pouring over each month’s Ensign. His testimony and trust in the Lord have grown in ways I could not have conceived of a year ago. He recognizes Heavenly Father’s hand in his life and has learned to trust Him. Heavenly Father knew the blessings that would come during that additional year in prison.
“Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” Luke 22:42.
My husband finished his first novel and we have queried agents for about a year. We’ve had some become interested; one he even spoke with, but he felt she was not a good match for him. One gave detailed notes that he spent a couple months editing and rewriting to incorporate. By the time he completed the rewrite, she had left the agency. Each rejection letter has been like a slap in the face, even though most were canned letters from faceless people who had never read a word of his book. To me, they still feel like personal rejections.
I have spent time sitting on a chair in my closet, pouring out my heart to Heavenly Father, begging Him to give Kevin this blessing; that an agent will see what I see in his novel and get it to a publisher who will also see its potential.
Kevin is one of those people who is often in the shadows and sometimes goes unnoticed for the smart, witty, kind and faithful person he is. I want him to experience this validation for his hard work. I’m not asking for it to be a success or make a lot of money, I’m just asking for it to be appreciated.
I don’t know why Heavenly Father does not answer these prayers, but I know that He does hear them. He knows my heart has sometimes felt broken because I want these blessings for Kevin and Cory. Recently, I have tried to have a change of heart and become more sincere in my prayers of “thy will be done.”
Elder Robert D. Hales said:
“the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we ’wait upon the Lord’… What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end.” (General Conference, Oct 2011)
In the midst of all this praying and hoping and trying to trust, I had an epiphany. Our mortal minds cannot possibly wrap our heads around the idea of eternity. We know it exists, but our life here in mortality is finite. However, our Heavenly Father sees the bigger picture of all eternity. My pleas (while valid and sincere) are somewhat insignificant in the context of our eternal existence. If Cory does not get out this year, if Kevin never gets an agent, it will be a harrowing disappointment, but in the grander scheme of eternity, they are minor setbacks. Thus, I need to trust and let go.
Elder Richard G. Scott said:
“To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all… Your willingness to accept the will of the Father will not change what in His wisdom He has chosen to do. However, it will certainly change the effect of those decisions on you personally” (General Conference, Oct 1995)
I almost—almost—understand how some people become discouraged and think that God isn’t listening. But for me, I know He listens. I absolutely know that He hears our prayers. I also know He sees the bigger picture of what is important for me and my growth toward becoming more like Him. For that reason, even though it is sometimes hard to say, I do trust “thy will be done” is the best answer for me.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught:
“And since our Father in Heaven loves us with more love than we have even for ourselves, it means that we can trust in his goodness, we can trust in Him; it means that if we continue praying and living as we should, our Father’s hand will guide and bless us. And so in our prayers we say, “Thy will be done”—and mean it. We would not ask a leader for advice, then disregard it. We must not ask the Lord for blessings and then ignore the answer. Thus, we pray, “Thy will be done, O Lord. Thou knowest best, kind Father. I will accept and follow thy direction gracefully.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006), 46-58).
In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “all things work together for good to them that love God.”
I know that my Heavenly Father loves me, and I love Him, so I will trust His answer is the best answer: “thy will be done.”