If you’ve read any of my posts before, there’s one thing you know about me: I have stomach problems. (I get it; you’re probably all like, “YEAH, WE KNOW! Get some new material!” But it’s essential to the story, so… Deal with it.)
Those stomach problems all started several years ago, during my freshman year of college. So this is the story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and how, in spite of being in tremendous pain both emotionally and physically, I came to realize that God knows each one of us so personally.
I was REALLY excited for college. I went to school at BYU-Idaho, roughly 2000 miles from where I grew up on the East Coast. I knew a handful of kids from my stake back home, and that was it. I had no family around, no car, nothing. Which would be totally fine — or so I thought. *cue dramatic music*
At the end of my first week of school, I got sick — like really sick. It was a Saturday and I hoped I just had a 24-hour bug, but when I woke up the next day, I was still miserable. I wanted to go to church, but I could barely stand up, so it was out of the question. My roommates all got ready, wished me well, and headed off to church. I was totally alone.
Honestly, I was scared out of my mind. I desperately wanted a blessing, but I didn’t know anyone to ask. I was dehydrated and couldn’t keep down anything that I had except for a slice of bread. (Turns out, strangely enough, that the college staples of quesadillas and mac & cheese didn’t sit well with me. Weird, huh?!) I needed to go to the store, but walking there in my current state was out of the question and I didn’t know anyone who had a car.
I remember, in that terrified and lonely condition, kneeling down next to my bed and sobbing. I told Heavenly Father how scared I was, how sick I was, and how alone I felt. I pleaded with Him to help me get better, and told Him how wonderful it would be to see someone I knew. That was all I really wanted: to see someone who knew me, cared about me, and could help me.
Shortly after my prayer, I heard a knock on my door. I was confused — I didn’t know anyone and my roommates were all at church. Who could it be?
In a million years, I never would have guessed who was standing in my doorway. It was my best friend’s older brother (and my Young Women president’s husband) from my ward back home — 2000 miles away. Immediately upon seeing him, I burst into tears.
Looking back on that later, I realized that was probably the opposite of the reaction he wanted… Whoops. But I couldn’t help it! I was just so… stunned. And relieved. And confused, grateful, and a million other emotions. He was a direct answer to my prayer! Through my waterworks, I managed to tell him how sick I was. Without hesitation, he gave me a hug, administered a blessing, and ran to the store and got me medicine, ginger ale, crackers, and a ton of other things to help me heal. And then he was on his way again.
As it turns out, he was just passing through on his way to Yellowstone with a friend and dropped by Rexburg to see his sister-in-law. But never — not for a single second — have I once thought that maybe it was all just a coincidence. No way. That was, without a doubt, a miracle.
Despite being in pain, I felt a sweet sense of comfort that day that was stronger than I can describe. I knew that God had heard my prayer. I knew that He knew me. He cared about me, and He took care of me.
Now let me make one thing clear, though: He didn’t take away my problem. It’d be great if I had just gotten better after that, but I didn’t — I still haven’t, not completely. While I’m certainly not always as violently ill as I was then, from that day forward, I’ve had significant problems with my stomach.
It’d be easy to think, “If God really cared about me, He’d have healed me.” But that is so ridiculously far from the truth. God didn’t heal me — for whatever reason, that wasn’t part of His plan. But He DID comfort me. He did let me know that He cares about me and that He knew exactly what I was going through.
In the Garden of Gethsemene, when the Savior was to endure the most significant and unfathomable pain the world has ever known, He prayed to the Father:
42 . . . if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him
Heavenly Father didn’t take it away; He didn’t let the Savior go through it in an easier way. But Heavenly Father did comfort Him.
I’m certainly not comparing what I went through to the Savior’s suffering, but I am saying that there’s a significant lesson in that passage: our Heavenly Father doesn’t usually just take pain away from our lives. He doesn’t stop us from experiencing anguish or sorrow. But He does comfort us in the midst of our trials.
His comfort doesn’t always come in such obvious ways as what I experienced that day when I was sick, but it is always there if we ask Him. He can soothe our hearts, bring peace to our minds, and help us to know that we are loved.
I’ve never forgotten, nor will I ever forget, the lesson I learned that day: God hears me and loves me — and even when I feel like no one understands, He does.
All because He knows me.
Amy Carpenter is the site manager and editor for LDSBlogs.com. She served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she learned to love mountains and despise snow. She has a passion for peanut butter, dancing badly, and most of all, the gospel.