It is reported that Brigham Young (1801-1877), the second president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as the Mormons, once said, “we should pray as if everything depended on the Lord, then work as if it all depended on us.” (Dorothy M. Hellberg, “‘Well Worn, Minus Rough Edges’,” Ensign, Feb 1984, 63) Most of us go through life with this belief and try very hard. However, sometimes we are faced with insurmountable odds. We start to feel the hopelessness and despair that comes from not knowing any possible way out.
When there isn’t anything else we know of to do it is time to turn to the Lord. We read in Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”.
We hear the exact phrase again in more modern scripture. Early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were mercilessly persecuted for their belief. In December of 1833 they had been driven from their homes time and time again by mobs. The loss of homes, personal property, and crops weighed heavily on them and they were faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. The Lord comforted them by saying, “let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:16)
It all boils down to faith. Faith that Heavenly Father is in charge and knows what is best for us. Faith that “with God all things are possible”. (Matthew 19:26) Since faith is a principle of action, we sometimes need to trust in the Lord and see what he can do for us. Faith then becomes a principle of power.
In the Bible in the Old Testament there is another group of people who were faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. King Hezekiah was a very righteous king. He lived at the time of Isaiah, the prophet. The kings before him were not very righteous and caused the people to commit wickedness. King Hezekiah purged Judah of wickedness and “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” and “trusted in the Lord God of Israel”. (2 Kings 18:3-7). At that time Assyria was conquering all Israel but King Hezekiah would not submit to Assyrian rule. Those who got conquered were defeated “because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant”. (2 Kings 18:12)
The king of Assyria mocked Hezekiah for trusting in the Lord and bragged about his own strength and the strength of his armies. He sent men to the walls of the city who tried to convince the people not to follow King Hezekiah saying they were being deceived by him and it was hopeless to think they could prevail. The people loved and believed Hezekiah and would not listen to the men of Assyria.
King Hezekiah, being the righteous king that he was, went to the temple and prayed before the Lord saying, “I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.” (2 Kings 19:19) His answer came through the prophet Isaiah who said, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou has prayed to me … I have heard…. He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it…. For I will defend this city, to save it” (2 Kings 19:20, 32, 34)
So what happened? Let’s read 2 Kings 19:35. “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”
There were 185,000 troops killed by the angel of the Lord that night and the king of the Assyrians returned to Assyria.
As King Hezekiah showed faith and trusted completely in the Lord, we too need to have the same faith and trust. We need to do all we can but when that isn’t enough we need to pray to our Heavenly Father. He loves us and wants to bless us. He will hear us in our hour of need. In the Bible in the New Testement Jesus performed a miracle by calming a stormy sea. “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39) With sufficient faith the Lord can perform a miracle with our lives and we can experience a “great calm”.
“Faith fuels hope. Our perspective changes; our vision becomes clearer. We begin to look for the best, not the worst, in life and in others. We gain a deeper sense of life’s purpose and meaning. Despair gives way to joy.
Faith such as this is a heavenly gift, but it can be sought and cultivated. As our Bible Dictionary suggests, often ‘faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith.’ Faith is then nurtured as we allow ourselves to believe. Like all other virtues, faith is strengthened as we practice it, as we live and act as if our faith were already deep. Faith is the product of righteous desire, belief, and obedience.” (David S. Baxter, “Faith, Service, Constancy,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 13)