Pain in the Mormon community seems to be a “hot topic” these days. I wonder why? I mean, I wonder why now? Pain has been with us for a long time. It is most definitely real. And everyone feels it. I’m just wondering why it is now being used as a catalyst for change.
Mormon women usually have the reputation of being strong; pioneer stock, right? It wasn’t easy to settle the Salt Lake Valley. Those women made a point of telling the world what they were about. When they called that first Indignation meeting in 1870 it was a message to the government that Mormon women weren’t wimps and they were willing to demand a voice to be heard.
But that was toward the government in defense of God and His laws. Mormon women today seem to be gathering together to demand a voice against God’s spokesman, the prophet. That is a whole different ballgame. The prophet represents, and speaks for, Jesus Christ. Some women are quibbling the difference between doctrine and policy. Again, either way that is up to the Lord and His spokesman. If they want my opinion, or any other woman’s thoughts, our leaders will ask.
So, if there is so much pain going around, what is causing it? Is it life pain? Or is it wanting-what-you-don’t-have pain? Is someone telling you to feel pain? Or have you been victimized?
Pain is real and we all feel it from time to time. When it comes to pain in Church, I’m afraid we run into a lot of human error, and dealing with that can be brutal on a sensitive soul. No question. But this is what I believe.
I believe that Jesus Christ fulfilled every facet of the atonement. He paid the price for our pain. Is the pain we are feeling today legitimate pain that we are willing to turn over to Him, because we believe Him and are willing to give up our will to become like our Heavenly Father? Or is this pain that we want to harbor? That pain won’t ever be paid by the atoning sacrifice.
As a daughter of God, I have come to this world with the necessary power to return back to my Heavenly Father. In spite of anything this earth life puts me through, I have the enabling power of the atonement to draw from, so I can make the choice to overcome.
Elder Bednar once spoke at BYU (David A. Bednar, In the Strength of the Lord, Oct 23, 2001, BYU Speeches) about this power that we have all been blessed with. He said we are all asked to go through hard things and we often find that we are not rescued from them when we pray. But we can ask for strength as we continue through the pain and suffering. That is where the strength of the Lord is. Then he quoted a journal entry from Daniel W. Jones on the trail coming out west.
“Things looked dark, for nothing remained but the poor raw hides taken from starved cattle. We asked the Lord to direct us what to do. The brethren did not murmur, but felt to trust in God. We had cooked the hide, after soaking and scraping the hair off until it was soft and then ate it, glue and all. This made it rather inclined to stay with us longer than we desired. Finally I was impressed how to fix the stuff and gave the company advice, telling them how to cook it; for them to scorch and scrape the hair off; this had a tendency to kill and purify the bad taste that scalding gave it. After scraping, boil one hour in plenty of water, throwing the water away which had extracted all the glue, then wash and scrape the hide thoroughly, washing in cold water, then boil to a jelly and let it get cold, and then eat with a little sugar sprinkled on it. This was considerable trouble, but we had little else to do and it was better than starving” (Daniel W. Jones, Forty Years Among the Indians [Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1890], 81).
Elder Bednar stated the lesson we can learn:
“All that I have read thus far is a preparation for the next line from Daniel W. Jones’ journal. It illustrates how those pioneer Saints may have known something about the enabling power of the Atonement that we, in our prosperity and ease, are not as quick to understand: “We asked the Lord to bless our stomachs and adapt them to this food” (Jones, Forty Years, 81; emphasis added). My dear brothers and sisters, I know what I would have prayed for in those circumstances. I would have prayed for something else to eat. “Heavenly Father, please send me a quail or a buffalo.” It never would have occurred to me to pray that my stomach would be strengthened and adapted to what we already had. What did Daniel W. Jones know? He knew about the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He did not pray that his circumstances would be changed. He prayed that he would be strengthened to deal with his circumstances. Just as Nephi, Amulek, and Alma and his people were strengthened, Daniel W. Jones had the spiritual insight to know what to ask for in that prayer. “We hadn’t the faith to ask him to bless the raw-hide, for it was ‘hard stock.’ On eating now all seemed to relish the feast. We were three days without eating before this second attempt was made. We enjoyed this sumptuous fare for about six weeks” (Jones, Forty Years, 81–82).
This is one way we can gauge our own suffering. We may not be on the plains in the dead of winter, but pain just as real can still be in our lives. On the other hand, some pain can be self-inflicted and hardly compare with Elder Jones’ experience. We are our own judges. But when we decide where we want our pain to take us, let us consider one more thing we can do.
Have you ever called upon the Lord to cast out Satan, dark thoughts, or temptation? Try it. If we can do it through a priesthood blessing, given to us by our beloved priesthood men, that is a great gift to draw from. But, women, we have the enabling power within us to call upon the Lord for ourselves whenever we feel it necessary. As Moses said, “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not … I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him; for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan” (Moses 1:16, 18), we too can push Satan away and draw upon the Lord to strengthen us, pull us out of an abyss, and comfort us at any time.
The reason we can do this is because we are covenant-making women. Through our covenants we are sealed with power to enable us to walk through this earth life with the Lord at our side. Eliza R. Snow said that we “have greater and higher privileges than any other females upon the face of the earth” (Evening News, 14 January 1870). Is it any wonder that Satan would try to deceive us from this knowledge. But God’s power is real, and it is for us to draw from and enable in our lives.