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Teach a man to fish...

posted Oct 21, 2013, 12:19 PM by Christine Merrill
I've spent a lot of time in doctors' offices and hospitals this year.  First, I got pre-eclampsia and had to deliver Sam 6 weeks early.  That was pretty scary.  Then, 3 weeks later, I got a blood clot in my hip and was back in the hospital for 4 more days.  It was a horrible time to be in the hospital.  My baby was tiny and needy, my family was stressed, and the whole thing was just unpleasant, not to mention dangerous.  Now I happen to be of the faith that God can and does heal people.  I've seen my children go from throwing up every 5 minutes to running around the house in the space of an hour, I've seen me suddenly get over a cold, things that can't be explained unless you believe that God heard your prayer.  So naturally, when I got sick, I prayed and asked God to heal me.  In fact, with the blood clot, I prayed hard and with a lot of faith.  I was honestly surprised that He didn't take the blood clot away.

I've thought about this a lot.  Why would God opt to make me go through that trial?  I mean, I know, to make me stronger, blah, blah, blah.  But why this one and not some other ones?

Today, I read these words by Elder David A. Bednar.  "Please note the requirement to ask in faith - which I understand to mean the necessity not only to express but to do, the dual obligation both to plead and to perform."  I thought about my experience.  I had asked God to take away my problem.  But was this asking in faith?  I was certainly pleading, but was I prepared to perform?  I pictured in my head the answer to my prayer for healing.  "Yes, I'll heal you.  Go to this doctor, and he'll give you some medicine, and it will be better quickly."  Oh.  But somehow, I wanted something more flashy...

I thought of how this shows up in my own parenting.  I can fix a lot of the problems my kids have, be it with bandaids for owies or tape for art projects gone awry.  But I don't a lot of the time - I just tell them what to do, then let them do it themselves.  "Go wash your arm off in the sink, then hold some tissue on it until the bleeding stops."  Or, "get some tape out of the drawer and put that back together."  For one thing, nobody's got time to take care of every kid problem all day long.  But mostly, I want them to have the confidence and knowledge that these things give.

Then, I thought of another story of healing.  This version is told by President Gordon B. Hinkley.

"One of the darkest chapters in the history of our people occurred in 1838 when they were being driven from Missouri. The incident to which I refer is known as the Haun’s Mill Massacre. In that tragic happening Amanda Smith lost her husband and her son Sardius. Her younger boy Alma was savagely wounded. In the darkness she carried him from the mill to a shelter in the brush. His hip joint had been shot away. Through the night she cried out in prayer, “Oh my Heavenly Father … what shall I do? Thou seest my poor wounded boy and knowest my inexperience. Oh Heavenly Father direct me what to do!” She later wrote in her journal concerning what happened: “I was directed as by a voice speaking to me.

“The ashes of our fire [were] still smouldering. We had been burning the bark of the shag-bark hickory. I was directed to take those ashes and make a lye and put a cloth saturated with it right into the wound. It hurt, but little Alma was too near dead to heed it much. Again and again I saturated the cloth and put it into the hole from which the hip-joint had been ploughed. …

“Having done as directed I again prayed to the Lord and was again instructed as distinctly as though a physician had been standing by speaking to me.

“Near by was a slippery-elm tree. From this I was told to make a slippery-elm poultice and fill the wound with it.” (In Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, New York, 1877; reprint, Salt Lake City, 1957, 1965, p. 124.)  She was able to get the injured boy to a house. With a mother’s love and a mother’s faith, she said to him, “The Lord can make something there in the place of your hip.” She had him lie on his face, and there he remained while a miracle occurred. Of that miracle she wrote, “So Alma laid on his face for five weeks, until he was entirely recovered—a flexible gristle having grown in place of the missing joint and socket, which remains to this day a marvel to physicians."

So, God could have just healed her boy's hip.  He could have taken away my blood clot.  I could have fixed my kid's art project for him.  But, as good parents, we didn't.  We just gave instructions and let our children learn and grow.  Next time I'm sick, I'll pray differently.  Instead of praying for the problem to go away, I'll pray to know what I should be doing.