I used to think that I knew what faith in Christ was. I used to think that if you had enough faith in Christ and His redemptive, healing, and sanctifying powers, all your problems would eventually go away after you had learned what God wanted you to learn. I used to think that faith in Christ equaled trusting Him enough for Him to take away all the pain. Faith meant that if I was patient enough through afflictions and trials, I would eventually be able to look back on the trials with a greater appreciation for Him and what He has helped me to learn, but only after the trials had ended. I used to think that I only had to have faith long enough to get me through a short period of time.
I now know that I am only beginning to understand what true faith in Christ means. Amid all the confusion and uncertainty that my condition gives, I know that there is a plan for me. I do not know what that plan is. I cannot see all the good that God has in store for me. I cannot see all the blessings yet to come for myself and others because of my life-threatening condition. At times it is hard to believe that much good will come from this. I know that my end of this trial will be the result of death, which just exacerbates the trial for my family. Living with these thoughts can be devastating and crippling at times. However, there is One who heals. He knows my pain and what I face on a daily basis. He knows that I think about my condition more than a hundred times a day. He knows it is hard. I know that He knows this. At times I wish He could take it all away. I have learned so many things already, so why can’t He take this away?
My condition is a genetic disorder and will be with me my whole life. I was born with this condition and I will die with it. So where does faith fit in with all of this? Faith helps me to live with it. Faith helps me to live. Faith helps me make it through each day even though I know that the trial will never end in this life. Looking at the future without faith or with weakened faith is daunting. It is discouraging and downright miserable. It is only when I look to my Savior in faith for strength to endure that I am able to withstand the physical, mental, and emotional pain.
I used to think that all trials end at some point. I began to believe that this trial would never end. And, although it will be one that I cannot escape in this life, I know that, through Christ, my trial will eventually end and I will be able to look back in the eternities and see so many blessings, so many gems of knowledge and growth that are specifically tailored to me by my Heavenly Father. I have faith in the eternal life that is promised to those who are faithful. This faith is what supports me, strengthens me, and comforts me in my moments of despair.
When facing trials, faith either means nothing or everything. I have often thought about what my life would be like without the Gospel. If I left the Church because times got too tough, I think times would get even harder. It is important to strengthen our faith when things seem to be running smoothly because we will need to draw upon that strength when times get tough. It is not a matter of if, but when. When times get tough, when it seems like everything is going wrong or life is too hard and no human word can bring enough peace and comfort, I try to lean on my Savior even more. Sometimes, even while leaning on the Lord, my trial seems too much for me, but I am reminded that it is not too much for us together because of Him. At those moments, I feel the comfort that comes and know that eventually I will be okay, but until then it is enough for me to be in His care.
For the first 36 years of my life, I had no idea that I have this genetic disorder which subjects my arteries and organs to life-threatening, spontaneous ruptures. Over the last year, I have asked why I am just now going through the pain. I have to admit that I have despairingly submitted to the natural tendency to question why. Why me? Why now? I have a wife and six children. Would life have been different if I knew about my condition early on? I am sure it would have. I love my life. I love the family that I have raised. I love my wife with all my heart. I couldn’t imagine never having them in my life. Through faith, I am learning to not ask why now, but rather to have gratitude that I was spared the pain earlier in life. The pain and anguish that I have experienced over the last year have, at times, been on the verge of unbearable. I am grateful that I have been allowed by my loving Father and Savior to live without the knowledge for so long. Sometimes I wish I could be back in the days when I didn’t know. I know that is not possible. They say that ignorance is bliss. I have faith that, through my Savior, someday my knowledge will be bliss. I get glimpses of that bliss from time to time. I can’t wait to hold onto that bliss for eternity.
I have learned that to have faith in Christ is to have faith in His atoning sacrifice. Part of that sacrifice makes it not only possible, but certain that I will someday have a resurrected body. I have always heard this and have imagined how glorious it will be to have a perfect body, but I have recently gained a greater appreciation for this splendid gift that He will one day give me. I grew up without the knowledge that I have a life-threatening condition that can strike at any moment. I thought my body was just about as perfect as it could be and didn’t have many complaints about it. Now that I know I have had this condition my whole life, it makes me wonder what it would be like to have a normal, let alone a perfect body. I can hardly imagine! I admit that I have taken the resurrection for granted for too long, but now I can’t wait for that day when my spirit and body will be reunited in perfection. Pain will no longer exist. I will no longer have to worry that my body is likely to fall apart at any moment. What freedom my Savior is giving me!