Wow. I didn’t anticipate this article coming out on my father’s birthday, but this tender mercy is just one more of a myriad of inspiring evidences of the Savior’s love for me.
“The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ” (David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” April 2005).
We are all aware of the scriptural reference when Jesus helps His new disciple catch fish. Peter had fished throughout the night but caught nothing. This was his livelihood, and empty nets meant nothing to alleviate the empty mouths to feed and pangs of hunger. Christ, knowing this, tells Peter to cast the net “out into the deep” — and when he does, the abundance of fish is so great that he struggles to pull the net into the boat.
For me, this narrative is evidence of God’s plan for you and me. We face struggles in our lives that seem overwhelming at times. like this young disciple had to struggle to bring in the abundance of fish that was now caught in the net. The soon-to-be apostle was obviously elated with this catch, but he still had so much more to learn and for which to be grateful. This was just the beginning.
And so it is for me and you. We have many blessings that are handed to us, and we only need to recognize them to enjoy and benefit from them.
“Patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace” (President Dieter Uchtdorf, “Continue in Patience,” April 2010).
Now, the challenges we face can become great assets to our development and whole learning. There is an important concept here, and the great teachers we have today are not just those in our schools or proximate to us. We have the good fortune of learning from others and the opportunity of providing service, which happen to be evidences of the Savior’s love for us all.
Even when we don’t see the indicators that we expect, good things always come to those that follow Jesus Christ.
President Dieter Uchtdorf shared a story that I love. He too learned this principle:
“I remember when I was preparing to be trained as a fighter pilot. We spent a great deal of our preliminary military training in physical exercise. I’m still not exactly sure why endless running was considered such an essential preparatory part of becoming a pilot. Nevertheless, we ran and we ran and we ran some more.
“As I was running I began to notice something that, frankly, troubled me. Time and again I was being passed by men who smoked, drank, and did all manner of things that were contrary to the gospel and, in particular, to the Word of Wisdom.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wait a minute! Aren’t I supposed to be able to run and not be weary?’ But I was weary, and I was overtaken by people who were definitely not following the Word of Wisdom. I confess, it troubled me at the time. I asked myself, was the promise true or was it not?
“The answer didn’t come immediately. But eventually I learned that God’s promises are not always fulfilled as quickly as or in the way we might hope; they come according to His timing and in His ways. Years later I could see clear evidence of the temporal blessings that come to those who obey the Word of Wisdom—in addition to the spiritual blessings that come immediately from obedience to any of God’s laws. Looking back, I know for sure that the promises of the Lord, if perhaps not always swift, are always certain. . .
“We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes ‘line upon line, precept upon precept.’ In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.”
Perhaps you are wondering why you are asked to bear a burden that seems overwhelming now with no apparent positive outcome, but we too must be patient and sometimes do things that we have seemingly done a million times. When we think that we know better, the Lord responds, “Follow thou me.”
Peter was passionate. He followed the Lord with great fervor, but after the Lord’s resurrection, the Lord asked him three times, “Lovest thou me more than these?” (referring to the fish they had just caught). Peter was distraught the last time, responding, “Lord, Thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love thee” to which the Lord responded, “Feed my sheep.”
Christ called Peter to his work and position within the Church that Jesus Christ had established on Earth. Today we still thank Peter, who came with James and John from heaven and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and the keys thereof upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. In the New Testament, he provided dozens of experiences and an example that breeds faith in Jesus Christ. His life continues to bless millions in our day. How could he have known this on the shores of Galilee two millennia ago?
When he first met the Savior, I personally don’t believe Peter knew of his call and the mission he would perform, but he nevertheless followed the Lord and became the chief apostle of his day.
Many of us today are fulfilling roles that far exceed our ability to comprehend at the time. Hard things face us, and we wonder how any good can come from difficulty. Yet just as the Savior filled the nets of the apostles with a bounty of fish too great for the men to pull into their boat, He has the power to “fill our nets” and bless our lives beyond anything we can fully understand or even comprehend even in the midst of hardship. No, scratch that — especially in the midst of hardship.
Because of Jesus Christ, we have a glimmer of hope in the midst of difficulty as well as in all our joy. We have all seen great challenges recently and seemingly unfair and illogical experiences full of pain, but even then, our lives are filled with a bounty of blessings and miracles that never cease.
You and I can see these if we slow down and look for the good in our lives and thank Him as we acknowledge our blessings.
All we have to do is count the fish.
You have no doubt have seen the following video before. I have shared it frequently. I am sure I will share it with you again (possibly many more times), because it gives me great solace and hope in my life, especially when I am facing hardship and difficulty.
It reminds me that I cannot fail if I have faith in and follow Jesus Christ.
And so it is for you.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.