Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Butterflies . . .
I have been really lucky in this life of mine. So far I have not been touched by deep tragedy. I’ve had some problems, yes, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I suppose that some people might think losing £30,000 on the sale of our house back in the 1990’s and ending up having to live in a two bedroom rented house with five children, a husband with Post Traumatic Stress disorder, two cats and a brother and sister in law living in an RV in the drive was a bit of a tragedy, and, to be honest, at the time it did seem quite difficult, but I’ve been very lucky in that, no matter what life has thrown at me, I’ve been able to find my place with God in the middle of it and some blessings besides. Perhaps that is one of the talents I’ve been given. Perhaps I should be very afraid, because perhaps, I’ve not really been tested yet.
Back in the early 1960’s, my Todd suffered one of the worst tragedies that can befall a parent. His little boy, only 18 months old, passed away. And not only did he pass away, but he passed away because his wife had given him aspirin and it turned out that his son had a particular sensitivity to Salicylic acid. Back then, little was known about this type of thing and indeed many, many parents gave their children aspirin. I can remember having to take it myself as a child. As a parent, it is hard enough to lose a child, but to lose one because of something you yourself have done . . . well . . . that must be the most heartbreaking thing of all. One truly has to wonder where is God’s hand in that, and why does God allow such things to happen? It must truly shake one’s faith to the core. It shook Todd’s faith to the core.
I have a friend who right now is going through a very difficult time. She is having a really hard time finding God’s face in all of it. And I don’t know what to tell her. Oh, I can speak in platitudes and tell her that God is always there for her. I can pray for her, and I am. But I can’t really show her God’s face and help her to feel His presence, and that, as a friend, is hard. It’s hard to see someone you love and care about going through such troubles, and sometimes, even I have to wonder why. I can only say that, this too shall pass, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t always understand why life knocks some of us really hard, and yet seemingly leaves others untouched. It doesn’t always seem fair, and at times, it seems that those with faith get knocked even harder.
There is a scripture that I love, and it is one that helped carry me through the hardships I encountered when my last marriage had broken up and I had gone from living in the family home with all my children around me, to living in a rented room in someone else’s house, all by myself. There were some very dark days for me, and days where I did indeed wonder where the face of God was. I had done the right thing in standing up for my faith and for what I believed in, but sometimes it seemed that I had paid a very hefty price for doing so and it didn’t always seem fair to me.
2Nephi2:2 “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.”
Father Lehi taught his son Jacob that in order to bring to pass righteousness, the Lord’s plan allowed for wickedness. In order for God’s children to appreciate joy, they must also be subject to misery. To accomplish the purposes of God, there must needs be “an opposition in all things”. Our adversities are part of that opposition, as difficult and unfair as that may seem to be.
“We came to mortal life to encounter resistance. It was part of the plan for our eternal progress. Without temptation, sickness, pain, and sorrow, there could be no goodness, virtue, appreciation for well-being, or joy” ~Howard W. Hunter
Like the mortal life of which they are a part, adversities are temporary. What is permanent is what we become by the way we react to them.
Some adversities are individual. Others are common to large numbers of our Heavenly Father’s children. During the past two decades there have been many examples of large-scale adversities affecting tens or hundreds of thousands or millions.
These huge catastrophes are tragedies, but they may have another significance. The Lord uses adversities to send messages to his children. Isaiah prophesied that in the last days the Lord would visit all nations with great natural disasters, disasters of which we see increasing evidences of in our own lifetimes. My heart breaks every day when I read of yet another tragedy befalling the peoples of this world, and it oftimes seems senseless and meaningless and at the same time I look up to the heavens and thank God that it isn’t touching me, while I yet again dig into my pocket so that I can help to provide some sort of relief for those it has touched. In the shadow of these earthly disasters my own problems can seem pretty insignificant.
I heard a story of two families that were shaken to their very foundations during that terrible hurricane Katrina several years ago. They both lost everything in the devastation that occurred, and were left without homes and any belongings, save the clothes they had on their backs and each other. Thankfully each family member had been spared death or injury. One said that this tragedy had destroyed his faith; how, he asked, could God allow this to happen? The other said that the experience had strengthened his faith. God had been good to him, he said. Though the family’s home and possessions were lost, their lives were spared and they could rebuild the home. For one . . . the glass was half empty. For the other . . . the glass was half full. The gift of moral agency empowers each of us to choose how we will act when we suffer adversity.
Therein lies the difference. Our responses to all the rocks that life throws at us will inevitably shape our souls and ultimately determine our status in eternity. Because opposition is divinely decreed for the purpose of helping us to grow, we have the assurance of God that, in the long view of eternity, it will not be allowed to overcome us if we persevere in faith. We will prevail. Like the mortal life of which they are a part, adversities are temporary. What is permanent is what we become by the way we react to them. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, we just cannot always see it.
So, for my friend I have no real answers as to why tragedy has chosen to test her faith now, and why all seems to be going wrong. I cannot show her the face of God in all of this. I can only assure her that God is there, and that eventually some good will come from it.
Paul taught that “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11) We cannot always choose the obstacles we face, but we can always decide whether we will allow them to discourage and pull us down or lead us to a closer dependence upon our Saviour. Somewhere in all that she is going through, there will be small miracles and blessings, if she allows herself to find them, and in the meantime, I continue to pray. And even if her personal faith fails her, I shall exercise the strength of my own faith to help carry her through these difficult times as I uphold her in prayer and let her know that I love her and that I care and that He does too. This too shall pass, and at the end shall emerge a butterfly who has been tested and torn, but whose wings shall help to carry her above the frailties of this earth into a far better place.
First comes the testing . . . and then the miracle . . .
Here's an old recipe from my old blog that is both easy to make and delicious! It's as easy as making a cupcake and then slicing it into parts . . . yes . . . my kitchen is still a tip and promised to be thus for the rest of the week, but my oh my how lovely it will be when it is done!!
*Baby Banoffee Cakes*
Tender and moist little banana cakes stuffed with caramel and sliced banana, then topped off with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, these are pretty special.
90g butter, softened
½ cup firmly packed soft light brown sugar
½ cup self raising flour
½ cup plain flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp mixed spice
2/3 cup mashed very ripe banana
1/3 cup sour cream
2 TBS milk
One container of Dulce D Leche Toffee spread
2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 cup of double cream, softly whipped
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Line a 6 hole Texas or a 12 hole standard muffin pan with paper cases, or butter well and flour and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, until light and fluffy.
Sift the dry ingredients together and then add to the creamed mixture along with the banana, sour cream and milk. Mix all together really well. Divide the mixture amongst the muffins cups.
Bake for 25 minutes if making the larger cakes, or 20 minutes if making the smaller ones. Once done, remove from the oven and to a wire rack to cool.
Once cool, remove paper if used, and cut each cake horizontally into three slices. Re-assemble the cakes with a layer of caramel and sliced banana in between the two bottom layers. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, a few slices of banana and some chocolate sprinkles and serve.