Faith Not Fear
Have you ever been taught something that you didn’t realize you were being taught? Or did you think that you knew something completely, but then you learned more? I recently learned that I was being taught about faith, without even knowing it. I believe in faith more now, than I ever thought I did.
I grew up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of the first principles of the Gospel that I was taught as a child was faith. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We learned that “faith was the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) I surely did not have a problem with that, and I had many experiences with faith throughout my life. My faith was not tested too severely, though, and I lived a relatively easy life.
I served a mission for the church in England, came home and at the age of 25 married my sweetheart, Mark, in the Mesa Arizona Temple.
We soon were the parents of three sweet children, a boy and two girls, and we settled in to our home to learn and to grow. Mark worked hard to support our family, and we were happy.
About five years ago, Mark’s work environment had become toxic and he wanted to quit his job. As a child, my parents endured several job changes and financial hardship, therefore, I was hesitant to agree to let him quit the job without another job lined up. So, he stayed and endured a while longer. Eventually the work situation got worse, and I could see it was detrimental to Mark’s emotional well-being and happiness. This time we decided to trust Heavenly Father and have faith that He would provide. We prayed and asked for help to find new employment so that our family would not go without. Our faith overcame the fear I had. Almost immediately after quitting the job, Mark found a temporary contract job that would provide for our family’s needs. Within 6 months, Mark had three permanent job offers. We again trusted in God to help him choose the job that would be best for our family. He began a job with Banner Health in January of 2012.
Mark really enjoyed the new job, and he thrived there. He had a great rapport with his staff, and was using his financial expertise to help the company. In April of that year, Mark experienced a pain in his leg. He thought it might be a stress fracture, so he went to the ER to have it checked. Unfortunately, it was not a stress fracture, but something far more serious. Within a short time, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancer. We were floored. The surgeon initially told us that Mark had months, not years, left to live. We learned not to listen to the surgeon, but to listen to the oncologist. A chemotherapy regimen began quickly, and we realized we needed more than ever to have faith. When friends asked Mark how he was doing, he was quick to tell them his motto was “Faith, Not Fear,” because faith and fear cannot exist together. He shared this message far and wide, in person, and on Facebook with family and friends. It buoyed him up during the awful times of chemotherapy and radiation.
In September of 2014, Mark had been struggling to breathe. Initially, the thought was that he had pneumonia, and he was admitted to the hospital. By midweek, chest scans and x-rays were done and it was determined that the cancer had spread throughout his lungs. On October 4, 2014, my sweetheart finished his earthly journey and graduated to the next life. From the fifth floor hospital room, the illuminated Gilbert Arizona Temple was visible in the dark night; a reminder that the promised blessings of the temple had sealed our family together for eternity.
In September of 2016, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency spoke to the women of the church regarding faith. He said, “The purpose of faith is not to God’s will but to empower us to God’s will. Faith is trust—trust that God sees what we cannot and that He knows what we do not. Sometimes, trusting our own vision and judgment is not enough.” Hearing that phrase was an “a-ha” moment for me. Mark and I had been professing “Faith Not Fear” for two and a half years, and I hadn’t fully realized what that had done for me. When Mark died, I was not angry with my Heavenly Father. I was not mad at the doctors that they had not done more to help Mark and find new treatments. I did not yell and scream that I didn’t want to be a widow and raise my children on my own.
The purpose of faith is not to change God’s will, but to empower us to act on God’s will. I think this also means to accept God’s will. By talking about faith for so long, my acceptance of God’s will was encouraged. Because of Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness, I know that I will see my dear husband again. I know that my Heavenly Father is aware of me and my family, and He loves me. I know that my husband still loves me, wants me to be happy, and wants me to have joy while I am here, even while he is not. I believe that faith and fear cannot exist together, and that the best choice is to have faith.