During the course of conversation, a friend and I once ended up discussing a book by Sheri Dew. Sister Dew was one of the members of the general Relief Society presidency several years ago. The general Relief Society presidency helps to guide local Relief Society programs (the local womens’ organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
I hadn’t read this particular book, but I was familiar with Sister Dew and always loved her frank way of speaking and writing. As my friend explained, Sister Dew talked about the concept of submitting our wills to the Lord’s.
The perfect example of submitting is Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew that it was His Father’s plan for Him to be our Savior and atone for our sins. Yet it was not something that He particularly wanted to experience. We don’t know what was going through our Savior’s head at that time, but we do know that He asked the Father in humble prayer if this cup might pass from Him, if there was any way He could avoid what He was about to experience. Then He added, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Christ trusted in the will of the Father and submitted to it completely. There are times when we are called upon to do the same. We aren’t asked to atone for the sins of the world, but there are times when we are asked to sacrifice things we would like to have or do in order to do other things that the Lord asks of us. There are times when we have our own plans, but the Lord asks us to do something else that may not fit in with them or that even make sense to our mortal minds.
I am not familiar enough with the book by Sister Dew to know if I am quoting Sister Dew or my friend, but that’s where the concept of “…or something better” comes in. When we trust in the Lord, we realize that His plans for us are so much greater and grander than anything we could come up with on our own. And we can even reach the point where we can gladly submit to them.
So when we have a need we’re praying for, we might pray that we receive what we think we need, “…or something better.”
Joseph, sold into slavery in Egypt, told the truth and kept his virtue and was cast into prison as a result. Perhaps he prayed for release. Yet the Lord had “something better” in mind for him. In prison he was able to interpret dreams and gain the trust of the Pharaoh, and eventually save Egypt and his own family from a terrible famine. As he told his family, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5) Perhaps it was difficult for Joseph to reach the point where he believed this, but as he looked back on his life, he could see the hand of the Lord in the things that had come to pass.
Sometimes we may pray to get a particular job, or a particular date, or any number of other opportunities, only to realize later that this would have been all wrong for us. Again, the Lord in His infinite wisdom knows the big picture and can guide us toward “something better” even when we’re sure we have things all figured out.
My friend is now facing what I hope we can see as “something better” for her. She has been in and out of the hospital and so far the prognosis has not been encouraging. Saying “it must be the Lord’s will” can seem cold and hollow to someone whose life has just been ripped apart, but at the same time I know that our loving Heavenly Father is and always has been mindful of her. And things that seem tragic here in this mortal life will make a lot more sense in the next life when we, too, can see the big picture and how the Lord’s plans for us have unfolded.
This post was originally published in November 2007. Minor changes and updates have been made.