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 believing. But 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.