I have decided to post this short article because there are so many with “hands that hang low” and “feeble knees” (Doctrine and Covenants 81:5), and to be true disciples of Christ we must do as he did – always lifting, always giving hope, confidence and strengthening the faith of others. Can we really do this if we express or live with our own doubt within our hearts? D&C 6:36 reads, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” Can we really do this if to others by word or deed we are communicating “if” instead of “when?” As parents we recognize the priceless value of expressing our unwavering confidence in our own children – and that principle is no less true or effective as we do so with others around us.
This means so much to me because in my life both personally and professionally the expressions of confidence, of “when,” have been more powerful and uplifting than there are words to express.
The Power of When
We knew to watch for the hand of the Lord in our lives, since His influence was not a matter of if but of when.
My husband’s illness came on suddenly. One morning he was cutting the lawn, and the next thing we knew he was falling ill. By the next day he was on life support. As we moved from the emergency room to the operating room, one of the doctors spoke of if they would be able to save him.
Because the illness he contracted was rare, he had a slim chance of survival. I couldn’t believe the dramatic turn of events. I felt overcome with despair.
Thankfully, Pierre made it through his first surgery and was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). There would be a long road ahead, but his chances improved with each passing hour. The first of many nurses spoke to me the morning after the initial surgery. She talked about when Pierre made it to the next step of the treatment. I paused with the impact of that word. There was so much more hope in when than if—it communicated confidence, expectancy. I thanked her for the choice of word, and she smiled knowingly.
Pierre received many priesthood blessings, which provided great encouragement. We knew to watch for the hand of the Lord in our lives, since His influence was not a matter of if but of when. Every time Pierre’s health became dangerously fragile, I reminded him of the blessings and that we needed to demonstrate our faith in the Lord. This was a sacred journey, and each day was a gift.
The hope of when kept us positive. However, 18 days into the journey, things went terribly wrong. During the seventh surgery, his doctors determined that the disease was too widespread. The medical team tearfully expressed their sorrow as they told me that Pierre would not survive the night.
I was able to be with my eternal companion as he passed through the veil. We were blessed to have his only living child from a previous marriage on the phone to relay the love that he had for his father. Pierre passed peacefully.
Weeks later, at his graveside, words of comfort came from Mosiah 2:41: “Ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, … if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness” (emphasis added).
Pierre and I had always determined that the if in that scripture would be awhen for us. We knew that by staying committed to our covenants, we would be reunited—it was a question only of when. We trust in the Lord’s plan of eternal families and eternal life. It’s the power of when that keeps us moving forward.