My friend recently gifted me a session with a woman skilled at using a person’s feet to identify physical and emotional issues. She didn’t know anything about me, but within minutes, with her skilled fingers and tuned in perception, she knew, among other things, that I didn’t have children, suffered hearing loss in one ear, held my stress in my shoulders, and was a wanderer.
As she worked on my feet, sometimes she’d run across something she wanted to let me identify myself. So she’d pull out her phone, pull up a scripture verse, hand it to me and ask me if the verse applied somehow. After I read the verses, she never asked me to explain or defend myself. She just accepted what I was at that moment and believed that I would identify and understand the meaning of the verse.
Since President Packer warned that violent movies impact our bodies and souls much more than we realize, I’ve been studying connections between thoughts, actions, and our physical body, cells, and countenance. But that’s a topic for another day. But because I’ve wondered and searched about this topic for so many years, watching this woman identify physical and emotional strengths and weaknesses through contact with my body truly amazed me. I couldn’t help but glorify God and feel excited about all of the new questions springing to mind.
I easily discerned this prayerful discerning and healing spirit were two of her spiritual gifts. Used in this manner, they were previously unfamiliar to me. But though astonished, I felt joy.
In the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, Paul, Moroni, and Jesus Christ list specific spiritual gifts that pertain to members of the Church. The listed spiritual gifts include differences of administrations and operations, faith, wisdom, healing, working miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues, knowledge, beholding of angels and ministering spirits, and to know the Savior’s mission through the Holy Ghost.
The point of spiritual gifts is to witness of the Savior and do the work of God (ultimately the immortality and eternal life of everyone.) The Savior offers gifts to all and promises that everyone has at least one gift.
“For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.”
What are your spiritual gifts? Did they come naturally or did you petition the Lord for them? Have you hidden it in the earth, like the man with one talent?
Or have you multiplied your gifts, like the man with five talents?
Do you honor your spiritual gifts? Do you honor other people’s spiritual gifts?
It seems that in general people don’t understand some gifts or their worth. Sometimes preconceived notions prejudice against gifts that may seem unusual to us.
The Spiritual Gift of Healing
My 4th great grandmother Margaret Cooper West (1804-1882) experienced this. She’d experienced a life-threatening illness and the death of a child and as she learned about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believing the Lord to be a God who provides a way for miracles, she began searching for natural ways to heal herself and her family.
She found a book about natural health that transformed her life. She prayed for divine assistance and became so adept in the gift of healing that she and her husband delivered her last three children without midwives or doctors.
She recorded that she followed natural laws appointed by God and she recovered from her ailments and helped to save her family’s lives on multiple occasions. Eventually, they never needed a doctor again. Though I’m grateful for the stories she left in her journal, I wish I knew more about the methods she used.
But apparently, others did know her methods and disapproved. One prominent church leader said the man who wrote the natural health book she used was “an illiterate man and that his works were of little value.” She withstood his rebuke and said, “the sectarians say as much against the Saints as the fashionable practice says against [natural health] and with about as little reason.”
Was natural health unusual and threatening? Maybe the man thought it diminished priesthood power. Grandma’s writings clearly indicate she felt the power of God magnified and manifested as she exercised her spiritual gift.
The Savior’s Spiritual Gift of Healing
Angry scribes and Pharisees objected to many of the Lord’s spiritual gifts, especially healing. Traditionally, they viewed sickness and disease as a punishment for communal and individual sins. Only God could judge a contrite heart and heal the ailment. Healing occurred with the mediation of prophets and priests invoking Divine help through the infirm’s sacrifice, prayer, repentance, fasting, and purification rituals.
But Jesus healed a person directly, through the power of God. The story of the man born blind is one of my favorite examples of traditional convention versus the Savior’s divine orthodoxy—His methods can’t be unorthodox, because He is the way from the beginning, eternally. Mankind’s corrupted ideologies are the real unorthodoxy.
Infirmity resulted from sin. Only a priest or prophet could facilitate healing.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. …
When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing….
Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? …
Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. …
They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. [Because priests or prophets mediate healing with God] Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. …
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
By using His spiritual gift, the Savior obliterated blindness, ironically identified real blindness and confronted false precepts of men. Infirmity does not imply sin. Materials of the earth can be used in healing. All good works occur through the power of God.
Jesus promised, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
The Spiritual Gift of Faith
In church classes or discussions about spiritual gifts, most people say it’s just the ability to believe. Faith seems undervalued as a spiritual gift. Sometimes I wonder if that happened in Moroni’s ward on some level, inspiring his amazing reflection on what faith accomplishes.
By exercising faith, the Nephites saw the Savior after His resurrection, received the priesthood, gained hope and charity, and received miracles. Then, what they accomplished by faith is astonishing! Prison walls fell down, others experienced conversion, mountains moved, men faced their weaknesses to accomplish the Lord’s purpose. They rent the veil of forgetfulness rent and saw all things. Moroni saw the Book of Mormon as a product of great faith.
But during these outpourings of faith-filled experiences, many with this spiritual gift experienced opposition to their spiritual gift. Prison walls fell down because Alma and Amulek were imprisoned. Those who saw the Savior after His resurrection had been under an extermination order. Prophets who edited, compiled, and then translated the Book of Mormon fought for their lives but persevered in their spiritual gift of faith.
An Opposer Who Acquired the Spiritual Gift of Faith
My 3rd great grandmother Eliza Chapman Gadd (1815-1892) did not believe the Church was true when her husband and children joined. Soon, going to Zion consumed her family. To keep the family together, Eliza agreed to leave England for Utah and they began making their way West. They joined the ill-fated Willie Handcart company for their final leg of the journey to the Salt Lake Valley.
During that trek, when winter snow fell early and the food was gone, Eliza’s husband and two sons—her husband Samuel and son Samuel most wanted to go to Zion—died on the plains. My 2nd great grandmother Sarah, only eight at the time, led a snow-blind Eliza with one hand as Eliza helped the older children pull the handcart up Rocky Ridge.
Just seven days after arriving in Salt Lake, Eliza was baptized saying, “I just can’t wait any longer”. When she was asked by a daughter just before her death about why she was baptized, she said, “After seeing all of my children turn into angels, how could I not be?” This is significant if you consider the fact that Eliza was snow-blind on the day her son, Samuel, died.
Grandma Eliza received the same spiritual gift of faith that Grandpa Samuel had and she magnified it. She experienced physical and spiritual blindness and through the spiritual gift of faith, she chose to see.
Acquiring Spiritual Gifts
I asked a family member I’ve always admired about her spiritual gift to see the spirits of those who have died. I said I would like that gift. She said, “pray and ask.”
The Lord said the same thing.
But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.
Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts. …
And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.
And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit; And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with. And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.
Rejoicing in Spiritual Gifts
We live in the fullness of times! We see the fullness of evil, but hopefully, choose fullness of light and righteousness. We live in a time when the gifts of the spirit can magnify and replenish our ability to build the Lord’s Kingdom on earth.
I hope we recognize that “every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ” so we avoid the Lord’s chastisement “dispute not because ye see not.” Instead, “thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.”
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.