When I first started receiving priesthood blessings, beginning with those offered in my confirmation, I really didn’t understand them. I thought they were the same as fortune telling. When I was told in an early blessing that I would become a good teacher, I thought it meant I would be a perfect teacher the very first time I taught my class. When the class went very badly, because I had no experience, I was devastated and wondered why I hadn’t received the promised blessing.
What I didn’t understand was that these are promises from God, not make-believe fortunes. They work on His timeline, which is more eternally focused to become a good teacher, I had to live the gospel and work hard at my teaching. Doing those things for a day or two wasn’t enough. I had to show God how important it was to me to receive that blessing. As I did so, attending teacher training, seeking advice from experienced teachers, and praying for help, I improved because of the increased learning. I also received inspiration as I did these things, helping me to improve faster than I would have if I had just studied and practiced. The blessing assured me God would help me to help myself. It didn’t promise a miracle that would happen overnight.
Most blessings include instructions for us to follow. Doing so shows Heavenly Father our commitment to earn the promised blessing. The instructions also teach us how to achieve the blessing. For instance, if I’m promised increased testimony, the blessing might include instructions on how to gain that testimony. God is a wonderful teacher and His advice is always trustworthy.
Most blessings don’t come with timetables. Often we’ll see the promised blessing occurring slowly over time. Other times, we might not even realize we received the blessing until long after it happens, when we’re looking back and noticing how much we’ve grown. Some blessings will even come to us after we’ve returned to Heavenly Father. I’ve been given promises while being set apart to a calling and actually had them not happen until I’d had that same calling several times. Sometimes I needed more time to earn the blessing or to be ready to receive it.
Some blessings do promise miracles. We must be prepared to open our hearts to recognize the miracle when it happens, and have the patience to wait for it. God sees our lives from an eternal perspective. While we want everything right now, He is making choices for us based on what is best for our eternal well-being. Have faith that He knows what is best.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.