From the time we change the clock back in the fall to when we change it ahead in the spring, I count down the weeks anticipating the change. I love the darker mornings and lighter evening hours and the newness that spring brings. I love when the birds return and when the flowers are in bloom. But this year despite springing ahead, darkness seems to linger. But not the kind of darkness that fills the night sky; rather, the darkness that only the heart can feel. The darkness of sadness and pain. A darkness that regardless of setting the clock ahead can only be healed in God’s timing, not ours.
The Friday before changing the clocks ahead, I did my normal routine — a routine that hasn’t consistently happened since just before my kids were let out of school for Christmas break. I was happy because for the first time in weeks, I finally had what I thought was a completely normal week: a week that wasn’t filled with family drama, broken-down cars, or school holidays. Everything was going great that morning. My husband had left for work, dropping our second oldest daughter off at the high school along his way, and I was about to head out the door to take our youngest daughter to school. While I was waiting for her to finish getting ready, I checked a missed text on my phone. At that moment, my entire “normal day” was flipped completely upside down. I still didn’t get a normal week, and the week to come is going to be anything but normal.
Upon answering the text, I discovered that my husband’s sister had passed away from complications associated with ALS, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. I immediately called my husband and delivered the heartbreaking news and told him to come back home and take the day off. We were devastated. Although we knew she would eventually pass, we had hoped to see her one last time and to have more of our time with her, at least lasting through this year. Yet this was no longer our time, but rather God’s time.
Sometimes in life, trials are inevitable and can’t be avoided regardless of whether we know they are coming or not. We knew that my sister-in-law would eventually pass, and although we knew that it would happen, nothing could prepare us for the pain and sadness that we felt when she passed away, even if it meant that she was no longer suffering. Some trials are simply in God’s hands and will be healed or fixed in His time. And although we’ll miss my sister-in-law dearly, we find great comfort in knowing that we’ll be with her again someday. But again, that day is in God’s timing, not ours.
The first principle in the gospel is to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This means that regardless of the trial that we’re facing, we will have trust in God’s plan and that He knows what He is doing. Having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will prepare us for whatever life brings. It prepares us to take advantage of life’s opportunities and to persist through lost chances and difficult times. And having faith means that we will trust God’s timetable and that we won’t try to override His timetable with our own. This can be hard because sometimes we expect prayers to be answered or trials to come to a close immediately, but that’s not how God works. He provides answers in His due time, not ours. Neal A. Maxwell, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
“The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The same is true with the second coming and with all those matters wherein our faith needs to include faith in the Lord’s timing for us personally, not just in His overall plans and purposes.”
We cannot have true faith in our Lord Jesus Christ without having complete trust in His will and His timing. When we impose our own timetable on the Lord, we’re not exercising our faith in His plan, nor are we placing our complete trust in our Lord. We’re saying, “I know you can help me, but let’s do it my way.” And that’s not how God’s plan works. Neal A. Maxwell also gave us this advice:
“Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, ‘Thy will be done,’ but patiently also, ‘Thy timing be done.'”
While we’re waiting for God’s timing to be fulfilled, we have to act. We need to be prepared for answers to our prayers and we need to prepare for when a trial comes to a close even if it’s not the answers or the way that we expected. When we do this, we will feel at peace and have an open mind and open heart ready to receive inspiration and direction from the Lord. For example, none of us wanted my sister-in-law to pass away. We all would have liked for her to be healed, but we knew this wasn’t a possibility. So to prepare for this, distant family members tried their best to spend more time with her. She and her husband were honest with their children about what was to come instead of giving them false hopes of healing in an attempt to avoid the inevitable.
When preparing for the end of a trial or for answers to prayers, we have to allow ourselves to accept the possibility of an outcome that we don’t want. It doesn’t mean that we’re being pessimistic or that we lack faith; it simply means that we’re willing to accept an outcome that we know is a possibility. And if that outcome doesn’t happen, we can breathe a sigh of relief. But if it does happen, our minds will be open and ready to receive inspiration and instruction from the Lord in how to handle the trial at hand — a trial that will eventually come to a close when God sees fit. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:61-68 we are given this direction:
61 Therefore, unto this parable I will liken all these kingdoms, and the inhabitants thereof—every kingdom in its hour, and in its time, and in its season, even according to the decree which God hath made.
62 And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near—
63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you;
65 And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.
66 Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound.
67 And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
68 Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
As we seek answers during our trials and answers to our prayers, if we open our minds to the Lord, He will give us direction and fill us with light so that we will know what we need to do to prepare as we go through difficult times. To seek answers, we must commit ourselves to the Lord, putting Him first in our lives, knowing that all things will come to pass in His timing. But until that time comes, we can find great comfort in knowing that our Father in Heaven is still there to help us and give us direction while His timetable is being fulfilled. Blessings don’t happen overnight. Trials don’t come to a close overnight. And as much as we hope for a miracle, we can’t always guarantee that we’ll be given one — and if we are given a miracle, it usually doesn’t happen overnight. In Ecclesiastes, we learn that there is a season for everything. And much like seasons, this time is short. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 reads:
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
Life has many unexpected twists and turns along our path. Although the seasons in these twists and turns may be short, the path is never a straight or direct path back to God. Hard times and trials happen. However, our path can be made straight (and without as much darkness from the twists and turns) if we commit to putting the Lord first. Upon putting the Lord first, it will become easier to trust in His timetable and have faith in God’s plan. And although we never fully know or even understand God’s timetable, we need to place our faith and complete trust in Him that our blessings will be fulfilled and that we will receive answers to our prayers in His time.
One thing that I have learned from this trial of my sister-in-law’s passing is that God’s timetable for our trials is short. Compared to her lifetime, her trial with ALS was short, lasting only a season of her life. And although complications from her ALS ultimately ended her physical life on this earth, her spirit lives on, waiting for the day to be reunited with loved ones and waiting to be reunited with her body upon the day of her resurrection. She still has eternity ahead of her — ALS free! And although we mourn her loss now, and will continue to do so on Saturday at her funeral, this time too shall pass and we’ll only live a season of our lifetime without her. Because ultimately, eternity is God’s timetable, and our time here on earth is short compared to what God has in store for us. Thus, our trials here are short and only a fraction of God’s timetable. And in the end, regardless of God’s timetable for each one of us individually and regardless of the trials that we face during that time, our destination is the same — and that is to return back to Him and receive eternal life.
I testify that God doesn’t ever leave us. He is always there, regardless of if His timetable has been fulfilled or not. We just need to have faith and trust in His plan and seek the kingdom of God, for it is in this moment that your darkest hour will be made light and the dawn will break.
Marie Yvonne is a motivational and devotional speaker for teens and young adults. In her devotionals, she shares her personal testimony and journey of learning to accept herself as God created her. Her journey can also be found on social media and her personal blog and website, TheConfidenceToShine.com.