11.18.18 Sunday Message

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This was a sad and challenging week for our family as my wonderful nephew Troy passed away in his sleep at 33. He had struggled with illness since he was nine years old and those trials caused him a great deal of pain his whole life. Although I am grateful he isn’t suffering any longer, his loss has left a huge hole for our family. He was an exemplar to many, never letting his physical challenges get in the way of living his life to the fullest. First and foremost, Troy loved his family and cheered them on with every opportunity he had, and we loved him, completely and fiercely.

As I stood next to my brother Merrill at his youngest sons funeral, I tried my best to comfort and share in his pain. I know that feeling of utter despair, praying to wake up from a horrible nightmare and not being able to breathe. I remember that seemingly impossible task to continue on—I had to for my other children, but I didn’t know how. As time went by, I discovered the only way possible to survive this terrible time was to keep my eyes on the Savior. Because of my experience, I was able to tell Merrill and my sister-in-law Mary that I knew how devastating the loss of a child was but they would be able to get through it if they kept turning their hearts to Him. This horrible day for my brother and his wife is what the Savior died for. He gave His life not just for our sins but also for our pain and suffering. The inexplicable grief they are feeling will lessen over time, I know that…because I lived it. The loss is indescribable but God can bless us with respites in between the grief if we but ask. I have always had a desire to study Gods word and I believe fervently that life goes on, both on this side and in heaven. From the learning I have done and the losses in my life, I have gleaned that one of the most important reasons the Savior appeared to so many after His death and resurrection was to show people how life indeed went on. He interacted with people, he taught them, He ate with them and He showed us through His example the continuation of life!

I know my son Michael is safe and continues his life in another realm and I also know my nephew Troy is now with him doing the same as well as my parents and others I love. There are many concepts of heaven and though I love music, the thought of eternally sitting in clouds playing a harp and singing makes me seriously think I’d go nuts! 🤣 There isn’t progression or purpose in that, for me Heaven is our eternal home, a place of continued growth and learning. Another thing I know for sure is our loved ones watch over us as much as they can. Death cannot be an ending because that would be misery, especially with the love we feel for our families and loved ones. It’s true we are separated and the pain can feel so lonely and terrible but as time passes our loving Father in Heaven gives us longer moments in between this grief so it can feel less paralyzing as it first was. As this continues we are able to see things a bit more as God does and a bit less as man does.

For now my brother Merrill and his family need to heal, and if you see them in concert please allow them that time. Living with Troy’s death will be one of the hardest things they do but I know that over time they will be able to use this experience to help others. Life is learning how to deal with trials and challenges, and they can be humbling and painful, but I know our Savior will help us go through them instead of around them, if we ask for His help. Humbly asking for help can move us forward in peace and love. I don’t believe God orchestrates trials, He isn’t behind the fires in California or the wars that plague our world, He isn’t involved in the anger and rancor we witness each day… man has been given the opportunity to choose... God will not take our agency away, how could we learn? Like a good parent, children are given rules, guidelines and boundaries to keep them safe. However, if they choose to disobey wise counsel there are consequences that limit their freedoms to enjoy a productive, healthy life. It’s all up to actions and choices. God can’t stop people from making bad choices but he can help those of us who have been hurt by those choices to heal. This is why even when we do experience pain we will always win if we choose to have God’s love in our hearts. Then we learn... He is in the words we use to comfort, the impressions we use to guide, the arms we use to share our burdens and help others with the knowledge that God is ALWAYS there!

I believe that and I hope those of you who are struggling at this time will find great hope by believing in Him who was sent to heal.