September 23, 2008

suffering with God

“Put on a happy face” – a theme of life lately. At work, people are constantly asking me, “How are Christian and Stephanie doing?” Their kindness and concern is so nice – but my strength to smile is wavering.

The other night, we talked to Christian in his hospital room. We put up a few more posters and pretty cards NieNie readers have sent and he told us how grateful he is for the prayers he has felt. He told us about how he listened on the Internet to Elder Holland’s CES fireside a couple of weeks ago. And as I watched Christian’s grief, I remembered what Elder Holland said in his inspired message:

picture from "Reflections of Christ" by Mark Mabry

“It is imperative to remember He is right there with us as He has always been. When we weep, He and the angels of Heaven weep with us . . . When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we have been in our entire lives.”

It makes me wonder – am I suffering with God? I have faith in His Plan. I believe that He can perform miracles. I believe that our bodies are only temporary holding places for our spirits. But I don’t think I’m letting the Atonement of Christ relieve some of that suffering the way I should. The physical pain they are bearing is hard to see – but their emotional pain is harder – and I know that the Savior experienced both (and so much more) in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knows the pain that Christian and Stephanie feel physically and emotionally – and no one else can say that. There are others who have dealt with burns and pain, but no one has experienced their literal, violent pain, except for the Savior. I think that’s what suffering with God means . . . realizing that your experience was/is HIS experience.

“The future is in your hands. Bad days come to an end. Faith always triumphs. Heavenly promises are always kept.”


  1. Thank you for the reminder of Elder Holland's words. I'm striving to understand and apply His Atonement in my life better as well. How grateful I am to know that in our suffering, He does not leave us and we can feel Him close to us, trusting that His ways are not our ways... they are better.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

  2. Thanks for that. I needed it too. I hope you and your family are feeling his blessings everyday.

  3. I still haven't had time to listen to that talk. I will tonight.

  4. That was beautiful. I love the "Faith always triumphs". It's neat how you can feel that that is true. We pray everyday for them and for you.

  5. Keep your eyes on God, and your heart full of His love. Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, experienced great suffering in the last years of his life. As a Catholic, I followed those years of his illness and infirmity closely, an have never forgotten his words on the great dignity and holiness that can be found in suffering. It is as much a part of our lives as joy, and as valuable a part in how close it brings us to Christ. He said of it specifically:

    "Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering. Before all else he says, 'Follow me!' Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world... Gradually, as the individual takes up his cross, spiritually uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before him. Your sufferings, accepted and borne with unshakeable faith, when joined to those of Christ take on extraordinary value for the life of the Church and the good of humanity. In the light of Christ's death and resurrection, suffering no longer appears as an exclusively negative event. Rather, it is seen as an opportunity to release love... to transform the whole of human civilization into a civilization of love."

    I hope these words give you strength and comfort. I feel that you and your family are my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and I keep you close to my heart. All the best to you.

  6. Hi, my name is Brianne Chase and I am your cousin :) I am Erin Larsen's sister. I hope you don't mind but I read your blog faithfully. I am amazed by all you do. You are such an inspiration. I just wanted to tell you a few things I have noticed about you since I started reading your blog. I think you are stronger than you know. I also feel that Christian and Stephanie would not want you to carry so much burden on yourself. I know that your elder brother Jesus Christ would really not want you to hold such burden. Please do all you can to give your sorrows and grief to your Savior. I know it is hard to do but I promise you from personal experiences that it is sometimes the only way we can finish a day. I pray not only for Christian & Stephanie but I pray for you individually and for all your family and friends. I feel as though I know you in some ways. I pray you will be a able to make each day the best day. Know that is ok to cry sometimes and it is also ok to think of the good times and the memories with your loved ones. May the Lord bless you Lizzy! My prayers are with you daily.

  7. That was so profound Liz. Sometimes, I forget that Christ literally suffered not only for our sins but for our physical pain and suffering (mental, emotional and physical.) I feel so blessed to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father that gave his only Begotten Son to atone for our pain and suffering. I wish I could take the pain away from you and your family (especially Christian and Stephanie.) But I know that our Savior and your angels weep with you and and are working full time to help your family pull through this. You and your entire family will be blessed so much for the trials that you have been through. I really look up to you for your strength and your ability to deal with such hard and painful trials. You have such a powerful spirit and you and your family have changed so many people's lives. Love you Liz. :)

  8. So true. I have recently discovered those photographs, and love them.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing these words. It has really helped me to feel comforted, and I'm pretty sure it is supposed to be the other way around :) I hope you know that I am always thinking about you. I know this is hard, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and the Lord IS aware of all of you needs. I know he prepares us all for these trying times. We have all we need. Stay strong and remember that I love you.

  10. Hey Liz,

    I can not imagine how hard this is for you and your family. I think about you guys alot. I think that it is ok to do a lot of crying and to not be happy for a while. Being true to what you are feeling will help you to heal. No one expects you to "put on a happy face", although we as women feel that it is what we ought to do, a lot of times. You are in my prayers. I love you.

  11. Hi there,

    I'm a stranger but read Stephanie's blog before the accident. I found your blog through CJane. I just felt like I had to tell you this:

    I am not a Christian and honestly never understood why people believed or had faith in Jesus. When I read this beautiful post of yours, for the first time in my life, I thought "OH, NOW I get it!"

    I am praying for your family every day.

  12. Becca,

    I'm so happy to hear that! I know that Jesus Christ loves you so much and I hope that you'll pray to feel His love - He is literally just waiting to wrap His arms around you. Thank you for your prayers - they are felt.


  13. Out of the sadness and pain (physical and emotional) will come something good. Look how many people are being brought to Christ, introduced to the church and reaffirming their faith and love for their family - and yours? The goodness of two strong people, Christian and Stephanie, and all of their extended families, are shining out for the world to see. And the world seems to be taking notice.
    I just wish I'd have had a different childhood....that I'd been raised in an LDS home. I'm grateful for my testimony and grateful that I found the church (even as an adult) and that my 4 children are being raised in it. As I read all the different posts, I find myself learning about how much closer and present I can still become as a wife, mother, friend....
    Thank you for your postings. Never feel obligated to share updates. As much as we have all come to love each of you, we should (and hopefully all do) recognized that this is a private, family matter. And remember, it is okay to cry. It is okay NOT to put on a happy face. May we all use the hard experiences in life to bring us closer to Christ....

  14. I love reading posts and realizing after that I was just touched, uplifted, rejuvenated. Thanks for sharing your heart felt thoughts.


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