Tuesday, March 31, 2020

One day more!

We participated in President Nelson's invitation to fast for relief for the physical, emotional, economic, spiritual, and other healing necessary during this pandemic this past Sunday. For our lesson time we watched a 2004 talk by Elder Hales called Finding Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which the little kids didn't find quite as captivating as last week's lesson where we burned stuff.

We're a little behind in our scripture reading and just read the parable of the olive tree this past week (instead of last week) and Alexander was riveted the whole time. We managed to read the entire chapter all in one go (it is 77 verses!) with Alexander interjecting any time the words "bad fruit" or "burn" were uttered.

"WE BURNED BAD FRUIT! WE MADE A FIRE! AND WE BURNED ALL THE BAD FRUIT! ALL THE BAD, MEAN WORDS! WE BURNED THEM! WE BURNED THEM OUTSIDE! IN A FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!"

That's right, buddy. We did.

Our lesson wasn't nearly as entertaining this past Sunday but, that's alright. Sometimes we need to make an impression on the children and sometimes we need someone else to make an impression on us. I think the more mature members of our family appreciated Elder Hales' words. I was particularly struck when he said this:
Isn’t it interesting that the one who is suffering often gains faith through suffering and accepts the Lord’s will, “thy will be done,” while family members and caregivers may have a difficult time accepting the tragic outcome and being able to strengthen their faith from the experience. We cannot measure faith by “an extra day.”

Sometimes suffering and accepting God's will—even if his will is simply that we muddle through our mortality—is the miracle. Sometimes our burden isn't taken away, we aren't healed, we aren't given another day. But still our faith is strengthened and we feel at peace, we feel God's love.

I don't really know what to expect in the future, but I'm sure many will witness miracles while others will suffer unfathomable pain. I think it's important to remember, while enduring hardships, that our faith doesn't always give us an extra day. And that's okay.

To give context to this post, I've seen more than one friend cite the "low" death numbers from Sunday as evidence that fasting works. There were 3518 deaths on Saturday, but only 3204 deaths on Sunday. Miraculous, I've seen some say. Statistically insignificant, says I. Yesterday there were 3723 deaths. Does this mean that our fast stopped working? Or does it mean that the miracles are taking place in some other way that doesn't include offering extra days?

I don't know what the miracle(s) will be, but it doesn't seem (so far) to include simply wiping our suffering away. And that's okay.

Perhaps a scientist was blessed with a particularly clear mind and had a breakthrough on a solution (the only clear solution being a vaccination at this point). Perhaps someone who unwisely considered disobeying orders to shelter in place reconsidered things and redoubled their efforts to self-isolate. Perhaps some people were given one more day (or even more years) to live.

Perhaps we won't find the miracles until we're looking back on the event. Perhaps even then we'll be too blind to see them. Perhaps I lack faith because I look at Sunday's numbers and say to myself, "That's no miracle; that's a (statistically insignificant) coincidence." The more generous part of me wants to let people have faith where they find it, but another part of me worries that misplacing our faith in numbers will perhaps cause our faith to erode when the numbers don't pan out. So I think it's important to note that we cannot measure faith by an extra day, we cannot measure faith by numbers. And perhaps the miracle is being okay with that.

In other news, Miriam has finished reading Les Miserables and now the kids all want to watch the movie (it's possible even that Miriam and Rachel did watch it last night, though I know Benjamin really wanted to watch it with them (he's never seen it)). We'll see if we get around to it today (it's raining, raining, raining and we're on spring break).

If you haven't already, may I suggest you watch this charming adaptation of Les Mis by a self-isolating family in the UK.

3 comments:

  1. I am not being allowed to post a comment which says, "Faith in numbers is misplaced, indeed, as is faith in Science in general."

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  2. *preview (Publish apparently works, but not Preview)

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  3. Thank you for putting into words what I've been thinking. I think at least one miracle is "courage to accept thy will". I don't know if I'm there yet, but I know that I'm calmer than some, which, given my anxious nature, is a miracle in itself. I have the energy and desire to plan, shop for, and prepare meals that I don't have to go to the grocery store for. I've never been a great meal planner or shopper, so that too is a miracle. I even stocked up on toilet paper on Feb 27, before everyone else started panicking. And somehow, my household has gone from 5 or 6 gallons of milk a week to 9 in about three (I'll have to check on that) I noticed the Sunday thing too, in new cases in Utah. But as I told my spouse - it's way too early. Also, people wait out the weekend, because an office visit is less expensive and less terrifying than going to an ER. The Lord CAN do mighty miracles, but it seems contrary to the economy of Heaven. But what do I know?

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