As I read Doctrine and Covenants section 24 last night and considered what to share with my kids for family scripture study, I honed in on the Come, Follow Me study guide suggestions to look at how the Lord lifts us up out of afflictions. I read through some of the suggested companion scriptures, spending a little extra time with Isaiah 40:28-31, OT. Years ago I “discovered” these verses towards the end of my mission. They perfectly encapsulated much of my mission experience waiting on the Lord, receiving His strength and being lifted up from some very challenging situations.
This morning with my kids we read in D&C 24:1 “I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions…thou hast been delivered from thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan and from darkness!” We discussed some of many challenges Joseph Smith faced prior to and after organizing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. Molly remembered that people tried to steal the gold plates from Joseph Smith and he was forced to hide them in and around his home. Joseph had to move his family several times to escape persecution while translating the Book of Mormon. When Joseph was in the middle of baptizing his wife and several others, he was arrested for preaching from the Book of Mormon.
I followed up by asking what afflictions or challenges we have faced as a family? I reminded Rachel of her experience in fall 2019 when she rode the bus to school from our friend’s house since I had to take Molly to preschool and couldn’t get back to our town to drop Rachel off at school on time. She was assigned a seat on the bus with two other girls who would push her off the seat. She wrote a note to me and my husband one day begging us to find a different way for her to get to school. Then one day she spontaneously prayed for help with her situation. Weeks passed and things got better. She remembers that she made some new friends which improved her situation. I suggested that the pandemic was also an answer to her prayer. We were running ourselves ragged getting Rachel to our friend’s house, Molly to preschool on time every morning, turning around to pick up Molly, and all without the daily help of my husband who was gone Monday through Thursday working. The sudden lockdown lifted us out of these challenges. We also discussed how sick I was while pregnant with Abigail in early 2020 but, after praying for help, the Lord lifted me (and our whole family) out of that affliction through proper hydration (you can read my blog post about this experience).
I testified of the blessings we received as we turned to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for help in the midst of our afflictions. We read together:
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.Isaiah 40:28-31, Old Testament
I pointed out the conditional blessing expressed in verse 31: if we “wait upon the Lord,” He promises to bless us with renewed strength, that we will “mount up with wings as eagles,” run “and not be weary,” walk “and not faint.” For my children’s benefit I recalled how exhausted I was when I began my mission in the Netherlands in January 2009. It was freezing cold, dark, and windy every morning when my assigned companions (colleagues) insisted on running outdoors for our daily exercise. I was not prepared for this physically or in the way of accessories and only had a short sleeve athletic shirt and some thin, baggy jogging pants. Luckily I had also brought a junky sweatshirt that I wore every morning. After the morning run, we would ride our bikes and walk all day in skirts. I suffered from jet lag (and likely from dehydration as well); it wasn’t unusual for me fall asleep during the day if we were invited into a home to share a message or teach a lesson. I would crash in bed every night around 9:30/10:00 pm, then I would wake up at 6:00 am and do it all over again. I waited on the Lord, praying for relief and placing my life in His hands, as I struggled through these challenges. He gave me strength to push through the difficulties: He lifted me out of bed and helped me run every morning, He gave me energy to crisscross the city on my feet and bike every day, and He brought me back to our apartment in one piece every night. By the end of the transfer (six week period), I could sing while biking and I had even improved my running time (my senior companion was keeping track). I know that the blessings the Lord promised through the prophet Isaiah thousands of years ago were fulfilled for me.
No matter the afflictions you face right now, if you will wait upon the Lord, He will lift you and strengthen you.