Our best friends in Alabama - our closest friends in our married life - called today to give us an update on their lives. When we finished crying, I immediately thought of how well the Lord knows us - so much more than we sometimes realize.
To understand, you need to know Dave and Sybil. They are from Panama; she is half Hispanic, with all the stereotypes of gregariousness and gaiety that come with that heritage; they were high school sweethearts; they have been married for about 25 years; they are only a few years older than Michelle and I; they are adult converts; they have seven children; he is hard-working, humble, self-deprecating, highly intelligent, patient, thoughtful and sincere; she is one of the funniest, most charming, outgoing, bubbly, spontaneous individuals this world has ever seen. She lights up the world around her wherever she goes. It is impossible to be down around her. She is energy and light and joy incarnate.
She has leukemia.
She was diagnosed last year - a total shock to everyone. For the last year, she has been receiving chemo in AL and Houston, TX. The treatments seemed to be working, but they learned yesterday that the cancer has come back. She has been given a 30% chance of recovery.
I talked with Dave this morning, and he told me the news. He also shared a few thoughts that humbled me - and helped me realize again how well Heavenly Father knows His children.
He received a blessing years ago that he remembers vividly to this day. He was sick and asked me to give him a blessing. In that blessing, he was told that he would be healed miraculously - and that he would recognize it as it happened. He said that following the blessing he literally could feel the illness evaporating from his body - in a tangible way that he cannot forget. That experience taught him clearly that miraculous healings can occur.
They also faced the very real possibility of losing their youngest daughter during her first few years. During that time, she received a blessing, and, while she was not promised healing, the blessing left them with a peace that they couldn't describe. They knew that whatever happened would be God's will - and they knew that if their daughter died they would mourn her loss but have the reassurance that they would see her again. She survived the ordeal, but he learned another, separate lesson about the power of the Priesthood.
All of this brings me to this morning. This humble man told me that he had never forgotten the blessing I had given him (that he had received through me) so many years ago, and as he considered his wife's condition he had the distinct impression to see if I could join him in Houston in a couple of weeks to give Sybil a blessing. He knew I cannot afford it right now, so he told me he would pay all the expenses - even though her illness has sapped their reserves. He told me that he was not expecting a miraculous healing - just that he wanted to do everything in his own power and then turn it over to the Lord, trusting again that whatever happened (whatever was promised in the blessing) would be His will. He told me, "I want my wife to live, but if that is not His will, I want to feel the same peace I felt when my daughter almost died. If I have done all I can do, I can turn it over to Him and accept whatever He chooses."
Dave has no idea whatsoever that my resolution this month is to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. He has no idea that part of that resolution is to seek out and pray for opportunities to give Priesthood blessings to those who need them. He has no idea that his request gives me this special opportunity in the exact month of this very specific resolution. He does not know what this taught me today. I will share it with him in a couple of weeks, but he has no idea how grateful I am for this lesson.
God knows my resolution. He knows me more intimately than I can imagine or understand. I know my New Year's Resolution for this year was inspired, but I wonder today if He gave me that inspiration in advance - knowing this is the first New Year's Resolution I have made in many, many years - knowing that my friends would need to make this call - knowing that I would need to understand more fully that He knows me completely and intimately - knowing that I would need the extra assurance from a grieving husband that he is confident that whatever I say in a few weeks will be God's will. It is humbling to be taught such a lesson in such a situation, by someone who should be receiving comfort but is giving it in a way he cannot understand. I simply hope and pray that I can provide the same type of comfort to them that I received today from them - that our Father knows us and is mindful of us and has a more active role in our lives than we often realize. With that knowledge comes peace - and that is what Dave and Sybil need so desperately right now.
David Marshall Stuart: Experiences of an Elder (Part 5)
47 minutes ago