Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Shall Overcome

I was reading today in Doctrine and Covenants 76 about those who inherit the celestial kingdom and I ran across this:
And they shall overcome all things. (D&C 76:60)
This verse always sort of freaked me out because when I read it, I would think to myself, I’m going to have to overcome all things? Yikes! I would begin to fear the future, worrying about what would come at me next. And it kind of gives the impression that it is all going to come all at once, as if I was a wrestler who suddenly has to fight the entire WWF and the audience too.

Today I was reading it and thinking about it and I stopped focusing on “all things” and began to focus on the “overcome” part. In doing so, I realized that two different ideas were implicit in this word:
  1. All things can be overcome and
  2. those obstacles that are overcome have an end.
That suddenly seemed encouraging to me.

And it stands to reason that we don’t have to do it all at once. We may be given a combination of trials at the same time, but it is never ALL OF THEM AT ONCE. Overcoming isn’t about breaking us; it is about strengthening and refining us.

Then I found something else.
And who overcome by faith... (D&C 76:53)
This showed me that faith is how we overcome those things that we have to face. What do we have to have faith in?

Christ, of course.

Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet. (D&C 76:61)

He’s got the power to do it. I really like that image of God subduing my trials and afflictions and enemies under His feet. (Stomp, stomp, stomp) He trod that winepress alone.

Maybe we need to get in a habit of giving ourselves a pep talk periodically to remind ourselves to have faith.
  • You can get through this. There will be an end to it. (Just because you can’t see where that end is doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It may be closer than you ever dreamed.)
  • God will help you. He hasn’t left you alone.
  • If you endure, you will be a better person and will have gained valuable experience.
  • In the eternal scheme of things, this will be “but a small moment”.
  • It could be worse. [insert list of how it could be worse]
I had a little bit of an accident on my motor scooter on Friday which landed me in the hospital for a few hours. I was absolutely ecstatic that nothing was broken, although I had gotten scraped up on my right elbow, right hip, right knee, and right foot.

I didn’t know what nurses do to clean up bad scrapes. I didn’t know it would involve vigorously scrubbing the wounded area with disinfectant-saturated cloth pads

Before they started, the male nurse said, “You can have a little bit of pain now or a lot of pain later if it gets infected.”

“Right,” I said. “This is supposed to be good for me.” I knew then that he was warning me that it was going to hurt, and so I determined I was going to have a good attitude about it.

He started scrubbing the scrapes on my foot. Hard.

“This is good for me! This is good for me! I’m going to be okay!” I repeated loudly while it seemed like all the skin was being raked off my foot with rough sandpaper. The left side of my body was all tensed up and saying that seemed to help me focus on the goal rather than the pain.

I went through the same thing with my knee, my hip, and my elbow. It certainly wasn’t fun, but I was so thankful that I wasn’t hurt worse that I was more delighted than anything else.

I look back at that, and it was a small moment.

What is taking greater patience, however, is a full recovery. I didn’t know that I had bruises so deep that they would hurt for longer than it took my scrapes to scab up. Evidently it might take at least a month for my bruises to heal. I’m reminded of it every time I hoist my backpack to my right shoulder and it bangs against my right hip. I’m reminded of it as my elbow throbs a bit from lifting the backpack in the first place. I’m reminded that I need to have patience every time I accidently bump my elbow on something or raise my arm to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. Even after four days of dealing with it I have had to keep reminding myself that I will get through it and remember how much badly I could have been hurt and remember to thank Heavenly Father for His blessings.

What I am going through is mild compared to what many others go through, but small as it is, it still is showing me that it really is those longer trials (whatever they are) that take the most faith. Sometimes it is an external trial—something that happens that you are forced to deal with. Sometimes it is an internal trial—some sort of weakness or foible or tendency or character trait or disease or addiction or temptation that you suddenly have to grapple with. But we can overcome all things through Christ.


Anonymous said...

First of all - YIKES! I'm glad you're okay from your accident.

overcoming all things DOES seem "freaky" at first...

Isn't it funny how we do need to give ourselves "pep talks" and remind ourselves of faith. This is a reason I keep a scripture journal. It seems like when I read the scriptures and write my thoughts in my journal, it is the daily reminder I need - that I have faith - and that I can overcome what comes my way.

You give a good example with your hospital experience. I think that it is amazing how physical trials can be so difficult (pain hurts!). And it is so comforting that we can rely on the Lord for those moments, too. We really are not alone.

Thanks for the post and the reminder that We have been given the tools to overcome all things.

ps...hope the healing goes well!

Rebecca Irvine said...

"This too shall pass" has gotten me through a lot of trials. The trick is to actually overcome, not just get through it...

I hope you heal up quickly.

Michaela Stephens said...

Thanks for your good wishes, ladies!

Jared said...

Thanks for the insightful post. I'm glad you weren't hurt more than you were!

Your experience reminds me of the pain of repentance; it can be very painful - there can be scrubbing and cleaning that hurts tremendously but it is necessary to prevent infection. I also like how you end by stating that we overcome by and through Christ - He is our Balm in Gilead.

Tony said...

I went through a bit of the same pep-talk if you will when my teeth were pulled.

Hope all is well!