Saturday, February 6, 2010

Faith To Be Healed: Part III

Our faith, like Zeezrom’s, must not be a belief that the Lord will spare us from death or affliction, but rather a turning of our lives over to Him, a conforming of our wills to His. The Lord left His peace with His apostles of old, commanding them, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Such an attitude toward the trials of life is only possible with faith in the Lord’s power to heal. When He left, Christ did not promise to take away all sicknesses or temptations—in fact, He told his disciples that they would suffer tribulation—but He did promise to grant His peace, to heal His children, to make them whole (John 16:33).

The Lord likewise promised the people of Limhi healing, although he did not immediately take away their trial. Said He, “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for…I will…ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while ye are in bondage” (Mosiah 24:14, 15, emphasis added). In this instance, the Lord healed His children by giving them strength to submit to His will. He didn’t immediately free the people from their Lamanite oppressors, nor did He cease requiring them to bear heavy burdens, He simply gave them the strength to bear up under those heavy loads. The trial was still there, but the hurt was gone, and their captivity became a growing experience in submitting to the will of the Lord, rather than an unbearable hardship that made them bitter and angry.

In our lives, the Lord does not always calm the stormy seas, although He can. He doesn’t always take away our sicknesses and hurts, although that too is within His power. Sometimes He lets the storms rage and calms His children. Elder Richard G. Scott explained, “It is important to understand that His healing can mean being cured, or having your burdens eased, or even coming to realize that it is worth it to endure to the end patiently, for God needs brave sons and daughters who are willing to be polished when in His wisdom that is His will” (Richard G. Scott, “To Be Healed,” Ensign, May 1994, 7).

When we have the faith to be healed we understand that the Lord has His eye on us and His hand in our lives, and, relying on His guidance, we yield our wills to His and accept the comfort—the wholeness—that only He can give. We rely on the assurance borne of the Spirit that the Lord can heal us, that He will make us whole and restore that which was lost through the actions of others, the happenings of life, or through our own disobedience. We submit to His will, and we follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who expressed their faith that their God could deliver them from the fiery furnace, “but if not”—if the Lord had other plans—still they would be true, because their trust in the assurance written in their hearts that God knew and took care of them was enough to overpower their fear of death (Daniel 3:17-18).

Malachi and Nephi both prophesied that the Lord would arise “with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2; 2 Nephi 25:13). Throughout the Bible, wings are used as a symbol of power, and are found only on heavenly beings. The Lord explained the image of the winged beasts in the book of Revelation, saying that “their wings are a representation of power, to move, to act, etc” (D&C 77:4). Wings provide an escape from enemies, serve a powerful mode of transportation, and display one’s beauty and glory. Wings covered the mercy seat in the ancient temple, (Ex. 25:20) and were used as a symbol of divine protection throughout the writings of the prophets. Wrote the Psalmist, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings” (Psalm 36:7).

The Lord Himself tells His children on numerous occasions that He is inclined to gather them, “even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,” (Matthew 23:37 etc.). In matters of sin, the Lord is able to stand between us and the demands of justice because His perfect sacrifice atones for our sins, and through our obedience and faith in Him He is able to extend to us His mercy, His shield, His covering. The original text is instructive in this matter; the Hebrew word for atonement, “kaphar,” also means “to cover, as with pitch” (See Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hebrew # 3722, p.1405 ) Through His Atonement the Lord covers us, protects us, and fills in the gaps that otherwise would let in anger, despair, and sin—that which would sink our souls in the stormy seas of life. Our faith in Him and in His Atonement will enable Him to heal us with those same powerful wings with which He covers us.

But just as chicks who refuse to hear the voice and accept the protection of their mother cannot be gathered, so we must pay the price for our rejection of His sacrifice. The Lord’s words to Joseph Smith on this matter were simple yet powerful: “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (D&C 19:16-17). Repentance, the second principle of the gospel, is an outgrowth of faith, and both are required to be made free from the bondage of sin (Articles of Faith 1:4). In order for the Lord to gather, cover, and heal us, we must believe in Him, have faith in Him, and trust Him with the direction of our lives and the completion of our souls.

The Lord asks us today, as He asked the Nephites two millennia ago, “O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” (3 Nephi 9:13). If we turn to Him in faith, His eternal promise is that He will heal us—that He will make us whole.

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