Monday, December 6, 2010

Conquering Despair

Alma 5

I live with a chronic illness that keeps me pretty much housebound.  It is a constant, daily struggle to remain positive and upbeat.  Despair is waiting, every day, just outside the door.  And sometimes it seeps in and overcomes me.

Such was my day yesterday.  It settled in, and I wallowed in the darkness all day long.  I prayed.  I listened to conference talks.  I tried my mindless pursuits of watching TV and silly computer games.  I prayed some more.

It didn't lift.  I doubted my faith.  How could I keep falling back into despair?  Why was I unable to maintain meek submissiveness like a child?  Why was I not long-suffering and patient.  Why was I unable to carry this burden, shoulder this disease with grace and dignity?

I had no answers, and sleep was a welcome relief by the time night fell.  But I woke up today, and the feelings remained.

As my husband was giving me the sacrament at home yesterday, the words that stood out to me were "always remember him."  I realized that I had not remembered Him at all.  I didn't remember that my Savior had descended below all things, and more importantly, that He had already borne these particular burdens of mine.  Although I had prayed, I did not specifically come unto Christ and ask him to help me with this.

So, today I decided to try to do better.  I started my day with my scripture reading, which is focused on coming to Christ.

v. 6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in aremembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has bdelivered their souls from hell?

Ah, there's that word again, remembrance.

v. 13 And behold, he apreached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their btrust in the true and cliving God. And behold, they were faithful until the dend; therefore they were saved.

I'm a list kind of girl.  I like to know, step by step, what I'm supposed to do.  I so want a change in my heart, to lift the despair and let peace and joy reside there once again.  How am I to do it?  By 1. humbling myself, 2. trusting in God, and 3. being faithful.

Trusting in God is an important step.  Of course I'm humble, this illness compels me to be humble.  Trusting in God means that He knows the reasons behind this illness, He knows why I have not yet been healed, He knows exactly what I need to become more like Him and to become fit for the kingdom.  He knows the day and the hour of my deliverance.  I need to trust in Him and wait.

v. 16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye ablessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Well, right now, um, no.  How can my works be works of righteousness when my heart is darkened by despair?  There is no room for the voice of the Spirit to guide me.  There is only wallowing and wandering and a desperate attempt to merely survive the onslaught.

v. 40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is agood cometh from God, and whatsoever is bevil cometh from the devil.

I know the source of my despair.  It is not from my Heavenly Father, who wants me to find joy in every season.  Satan must laugh during days like these, because he has me bound.  I am no good, to myself or to others.

v. 59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his aflock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.

v. 60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.

The Lord is my shepherd.  If I come unto Him, He will drive the ravenous wolves out of my heart.  He will not suffer that I be destroyed.
Today I will remember Him.  I will cry unto Him often, asking Him to let me take His yoke upon me, that my burdens will not feel so heavy upon my shoulders.  I will pray.  I will talk to Him.  I will share my pain, my frustration, my sorrow.  I will ask Him to help me drive the wolves away.  I will find some good to do.  I will let Him wrought a mighty change in my heart.

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