tonight i sang little whopper to sleep with easter songs. jesus shines brighter, jesus shines purer and brings to all the world his love. asher watched me closely through the next verses and i thought on how exactly he makes our sorrowing spirits sing.
i have not been filling this space, but i have been scratching down notes, and thoughts, and essays elsewhere… all of which are patiently waiting for my retro journal project to be complete. it has been harder than i expected. not the remembering, but the reliving. as i’ve immersed myself in certain months and years of my past, i’ve had to step away. take a break. let go of whatever pain or hurt was plaguing me then. in retro journal time i am still wading through the pain and heartache of 2010.
this past easter sunday we reflected on what we can do, because of him. i can have hope. while working on my journal tonight i remembered hope was important to me in the aftermath of that first lost pregnancy. throughout that year i had been working with my young women to complete a challenge we had given them of reading the entire book of mormon. when i concluded the book of mormon that year i found myself drawn to ether. (so much so that i may have tried to convince christian that it was a reasonable baby boy name last year). at our activity to wrap up the book of mormon challenge i spoke. these were my words:
The message of the Book of Mormon to me, is one of Hope.
A hope, that God hears our prayers and will answer and protect us. A hope, that despite how hard and long the journey, we will eventually arrive at our personal promised lands. A hope that even in our darkest hour, we are not alone. A hope, that we will be freed from our private captivities. A hope, that no matter what the mistake, our sins can be washed clean through the atonement of Christ. Ultimately, it speaks of our hope to live again. This kind of hope, along with faith, helps us overcome fear, discouragement and worry. This kind of hope leads us to peace, rejoicing and gladness.
Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Safety for the Soul,” 2009)
The Book of Mormon tells the story of two different civilizations that both were destroyed through wickedness. The Nephites and the Jaredites should have had very different endings. They had the truth. They were followers of Christ. By the end raging wars killed off the people, leaving lone prophets to chronicle their story for us.
We recognize Ether for writing of the Brother of Jared at the time of the tower of Babel. We remember how he asked the Lord to touch stones – believing that the power of His touch could illuminate them, giving light to the barges as they crossed the ocean. Ether was the last Jaredite prophet. He devoted his whole life to the cause of the Savior. Through all the devastation – Ether writes of hope:
Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4)
Ether could have written a very different journal entry. But he chose the promise of hope, that eventually, he would see a better world.
The prophet Mormon shares a lot with Ether. After watching his people kill one another, he gives the sacred records he had kept to his son, Moroni. In one of his last letters to Moroni, he relates some of the horrors of battle. It is sad and depressing stuff. But a particular verse jumped out at me:
My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever. (Moroni 9:25)
Even when Mormon faced death, and knew his son would be left alone – he didn’t waste time complaining. What did he do? He acknowledged the hard things, but he didn’t focus on them. He asks his son to be faithful, to not wallow in grief and most importantly to hope in the glory of Christ.
Each of us has our own private battles raging. Life’s problems and dark, heavy things —— Satan uses despair to bind our hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. But we know better. We trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises to us. Despite the current chapter in our lives, because of Christ’s sacrifice, the ending will exceed our expectations.
“We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness,.. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “We Look to Christ,” 2002).
“For the love of the son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow and gladdens every heart” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” 2008).
Elder Holland said that when we are confidently obedient, we are exercising our faith toward experiences in the future, the unknown. Mountain-moving faith like that of the brother of Jared precedes the miracle and the knowledge. He had to believe before God spoke. He had to act before the ability to complete that action was apparent. Faith is to agree unconditionally—and in advance—to whatever conditions God may require in both the near and distant future (Jeffrey R. Holland; Christ and the New Covenant , 18–19).
We increase our hope much the same way we increase our faith, by small steps. One decision at a time. We need not fear (Luke 12:32). We need to be still (Psalms 46:10). We need to remember (D&C 90:24).
Ether concludes his writings by asking us to seek this Jesus (Ether 12:41). Moroni echoes his predecessor and invites us to come unto Christ (Moroni 10:30-32).
and here i was tonight, singing to a quickly growing boy about that very jesus.
a boy i didn’t know i would be able to have, but that i hoped for in 2010.