“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Over the past few months, I feel like I have been on my knees with the same prayer over and over. Moving back to the cold weather of Utah after years of living beautiful Hawaii and traveling across Asia and Africa was not really what I wanted, but I knew it was what I needed. Since moving back, trials have hit me from every side in every way-spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Many days I wondered if God was so busy with wars in the Middle East, gun control, and the Election Campaigns, that he didn’t have time to answer my desperate pleas. It truly seemed that the harder I tried, the harder it got. But, haven’t we all been there?
This past Sunday, my prayers were answered in a unique way, with a particular word that I hadn’t thought of in this way. The word: desperate. The word desperate generally has a negative connotation. The dictionary defines it as: very sad and upset because of having little or no hope : feeling or showing despair. When we are desperate, we feel we need to take extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration. No one loves to feel desperate!
My thoughts on the word “desperate” changed when I listened to President Russell Nelson’s wife, Sister Nelson’s, talk during the CES devotional at BYU-Hawaii, where I attended and graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. She asked if we recalled the women with the blood disease in the Bible, and also the story of the disciples when the storms hit during their fishing trip or travels and they asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”. There are many stories where people anxiously went to our Savior and asked, no begged and pleaded, for something that they truly needed in their lives. The one word that they all had in common was “desperate”. Sister Nelson taught me that being desperate can be a driving and motivating force for us to change and become the people we need to be. When we are “desperate” for good health, we do EVERYTHING in our power to eat right, exercise, and take care of our body. When we are “desperate” for finances, we do everything in our power to pay our tithing, work, and save the money we need. Desperation motivates us to be humble and pray with more fervance than we would at any other time in our lives. Desperation leads to action-so long as we are desperate with faith!
The dictionary also defines “desperate” as “extreme intensity”. I look back on the past few months of my life and how I have pleaded with the Lord to help me regain my testimony, fix my financial situation, meet new people and build strong relationships, and overcome the weaknesses that so easily beset me. I really felt I was praying with real intent. But, I wasn’t praying with the desperation of the soul that leads to action. I was asking God to come to me or meet me half-way, rather than me having faith and trust that if “I but touched his cloak, he would heal me”. My faith was not sufficient to make me whole.
At times, faithful Saints come to understand that perhaps the greatest healing miracles take place in their hearts as they live with—and learn from—adversity. As we suffer through desperate times, may we remember that the anxious feelings we feel can encourage us to be humble and trust in our Savior. They can encourage us to work towards our desires with “extreme intensity”, not letting anything come between the things we truly desperately want and need.
“Yea, verily … , if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive.”
“If our faith is anchored securely in our testimonies of Christ,” said Elder Ballard, “we will be able to cope with whatever adversity comes our way, and we will be able to do so in a positive, faith-promoting manner. If we keep the eye of faith focused on Christ, we gain a broader view and an eternal perspective, and with that we can understand adversity from within the context of Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for all of His children. And we can find comfort in this life in the eternal safety, peace, joy and security that He promises” (Ensign,December 1996, 61).