And All Things Shall Work Together for Your Good

Someone very dear to me had a huge setback – as we all do.  But this setback seemed enormous. She wanted to join the Phoenix Fire Department, and against all odds, had made incredible strides at doing so, over the course of a grueling year.  All of this came down to the final interview – and by all judgments, things looked good.  And then suddenly, tragedy struck – a freak accident and a broken arm.  None of this boded well as a sign to impress the board who would be choosing the final candidates.  The worst kind of incident at the worst time.  And of course, our first reaction is the foolish, knee-jerk response, “How could God do this to us?”

That “God doesn’t do things like this to us” is the first reality which we need to acknowledge.  But, in a more helpful vein, I would like to share another simple reality which we must all, always remember about God, his universe and the Divine arithmetic of the cosmos.  I capsulized it in a short letter.

‘My dear little champion,

Please, don’t be discouraged.  I know that is a lot to ask – but not of you.  You are no stranger to doing the difficult – or the impossible.  Yes, breaking your arm, especially right now, was a pretty rough turn of fate.  But God is also fully capable of doing the impossible.  And he has been doing it for years.

I want you to consider a simple concept with me and know that your Heavenly Father is still with you and that he is still very much under control.

“Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.” — Doctrine and Covenants 90:24

The Lord has reiterated this promise elsewhere in the scriptures, but this is the most complete expression of the formula.  Notice and never forget that “all things shall work together for your good. . .”  That is a strange kind of arithmetic where all things – not just the good things, not a bunch of good things mixed with a few bad things — but literally all things will combine to work together for your good.  And I have found that formula to be true.

Of course, there are qualifiers.  We must (1) search diligently, (2) pray always, (3) and be believingBut if we do so and (4) walk uprightly and (5) remember the covenants which we have made, then the promise of the Lord is sure.

My friend, you meet those qualifiers. You always have.  You have therefore earned the right to look to your Heavenly Father with a full expectation that he will keep that promise.  It is ironclad. I know that you have spent a lifetime staying true to your covenants and choosing the right. I know that you have ever been prayerful and searched the scriptures and for inspiration in pursuing the course of your life.  But I also know that right now may be a very difficult time for you to believe that your broken arm can somehow contribute, under the circumstances, to the happy ending we all look for at the conclusion of this story.  But this story will indeed have a happy resolution. That’s where believing comes in – and that can often be the hardest part.  But I know that Heavenly Father will never let you down.  I don’t know how he intends to work out the details, but he always has, and he always will.

Never forget, you are one of my heroes.  You know how to face adversity and do awesome things.  This may be one of the most difficult things you have ever done.  But I know that your Heavenly Father loves you and will not let you down.  Have faith in him.  Take him at his word. Take the scriptures at face value.  And allow the power of the atonement to fix this – yes, even this.  I don’t know how, but I have full confidence that all of this will work, not in spite of the circumstances, but because of them, to bless your life.

My most fervent prayers are with you.  “Stand still and behold the power of God.”’

Well, I wrote that letter a month or so ago – I think.  Within a week or two she will leave for the perfect assignment – on a Wildlife Fire Crew, (you know, forest fires)!  The offer rolled in a few days after her rejection from various fire departments – and the expected verdict, “You’re just too small.”  The Wildlife teams said she was just the right size, with the endurance and drive they need – in fact with all the qualifications they need.  Within the next several days she received more invitations to join other companies. She finally joined a crew operating out of Springerville, Arizona.  The pay, the benefits, the days on and off – everything about the new job was ideal to her situation, and her family circumstances.  Who ever thought the Lord could work out things so perfectly well.  But then again, that’s the way he works things out – all the time. 1+1=3.  That is God’s miraculous arithmetic as he blesses our lives with the impossible.

I anticipate with faith for all things to so work in my life.   May the Lord likewise bless all of us.


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2 thoughts on “And All Things Shall Work Together for Your Good

  1. Noel Brettoner

    Dear Mr Stirling,

    Seeing that photo of you lying soaking in the sun, blessed with a daughter each side speaks volumes of the caring sharing family you two have raised. Please know that they are joined with many others, who, being prompted by Holy Spirit, lift you up to our Heavenly Father; to Soak in His Love. This, in addition to the Faith-ful regular prayers I am certain must be great encouragement to you & Mrs Stirling. In fact to the whole family & friends if not physically but spiritually gathered around you. As you Rest in His Presence, I am reminded of the NLT version of Psalm 23. I love this version, starting from v1 :-
    “Psa 23:1 A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
    Psa 23:2 He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams.
    Psa 23:3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.
    Psa 23:4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.
    Psa 23:5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
    Psa 23:6 Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. ”

    God Bless you, and all who you care for.

  2. Darwin

    A person could do a quick process of elimination here…hardcore pixie dancing violinist; author/horse trainer; New Yorker…which covers all of the daughters except one.

    I did a stint as a forest firefighter. Besides the regular unpredictable fire stuff, watch out for animals. Prayer helps.

    Oh. And in fine Wile E. Coyote style…I got flattened by the water bomber. (Communication is important!)

    I shared this quote previously on Brooke’s blogpost about her friend Mackenzie. (Hope Mackenzie is doing well!) Mackenzie’s Mom liked it.

    “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”

    Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1917–2008), “Come What May, and Love It,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 28.

    And I thought if this after reading your wise comments about the Atonement. Quoting you: “And allow the power of the atonement to fix this – yes, even this. I don’t know how, but I have full confidence that all of this will work, not in spite of the circumstances, but because of them, to bless your life.”

    “Faith to Forgive Grievous Harms: Accepting the Atonement as Restitution.” by James R. Rasband – who was dean of the BYU Law School when this devotional address was given on 23 October 2012.

    “Forgiveness requires us to consider the other side of the Atonement—a side that we don’t think about as often but that is equally critical. That side is the Atonement’s power to satisfy our demands of justice against others, to fulfill our rights to restitution and being made whole. We often don’t quite see how the Atonement satisfies our own demands for justice. Yet it does so. It heals us not only from the guilt we suffer when we sin, but it also heals us from the sins and hurts of others.

    It is critical to understand that forgiving others is not just a practical virtue. It is a profound act of faith in the Atonement and the promise that the Savior’s sacrifice repays not just our debts to others but also the debts of others to us.

    In our live-and-let-live society, we may believe that being forgiving is just etiquette and good manners. It is not. We may think that forgiveness requires us to let mercy rob justice. It does not. Forgiveness does not require us to give up our right to restitution. It simply requires that we look to a different source. The non-judgmental worldly phrases “don’t worry about it” and “it’s no big deal” are not illustrations of the doctrine of forgiveness. On the contrary, when a person sins against us, it can be a very big deal. The point is that the Atonement is very big compensation that can take care of very big harms. Forgiveness doesn’t mean minimizing the sin; it means maximizing our faith in the Atonement.

    My greatest concern is that if we wrongly believe forgiveness requires us to minimize the harms we suffer, this mistaken belief will be a barrier to developing a forgiving heart. It is okay to recognize how grave a sin is and to demand our right to justice—if our recognition triggers gratitude for the Atonement. Indeed, the greater the sin against us—the greater the harm we suffer—the more we should value the Atonement.”


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