Have you ever noticed that when people talk about their trials in a public setting, they tend to focus on what happened at the end? They talk about the miracle, the promise, the way it all worked out. It isn’t often that people talk about what happened in the middle of the trial.
So what happens if you are in the middle?
What if the promise, or the miracle, or the answer you long for is nowhere in sight? Have you ever wondered where you might go to find the answers that will help you get through the middle moments of your life?
Study "Middle" Moments in the Scriptures
The scriptures are filled with accounts of journeys. Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Noah, Jeremiah, Lehi, Nephi, and Jared are just a few who had to make a journey of some kind. If you go back and read through their records carefully, you will realize there is more recorded in their histories than just their arrival at the promised land. The whole journey has been captured in writing—even the moments of waiting that happened in the middle.
If you are looking for answers, these scriptural accounts are one of the best places you can turn. Don’t read what happened at the end of the journey; instead, focus on the chapters that talk about the moments in the middle. What counsel does the Lord give in those chapters? What questions does He ask? What promises does He covenant to keep? Then spend some time considering how the people in those chapters responded to His counsel. What action was required on their part? What did they learn and experience?
The nuggets of counsel, inspired questions, and certain promises from the Lord found in the scriptures can help guide us through the middle moments of our own lives. A sincere search through the standard works will lead you to discover even more journeys that you can study and learn from.
Remember, just as every journey has a beginning and an end, it also has a middle. You will make it through this one. The Lord will show you how.
Stop Looking at the Peak
This past winter I experienced an illness that knocked me off my feet. It is the sickest I have ever been. I was down in bed for almost four months, and although I visited doctor after doctor, no one could find a solution. Finally, after several prayers, priesthood blessings, and tender mercies, I found a doctor who could help. He warned me that the progress would be slow.
I am not a patient person, and the waiting to get better was excruciating. My aunt called one day to encourage me. As we finished the conversation, she reminded me, “This isn’t the 24-hour flu; you could have months of recovery ahead.” It was the first time in my life I have actually wanted to have the 24-hour flu.
I spent most afternoons in tears, and finally one day I called a good friend for counsel. I poured out my heart to him and then asked for advice. He replied, “The problem is that you are looking at the peak. You need to be looking at the pickup truck.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked incredulously.
So he explained. “Pretend you are on a hike. You are spending so much time looking at the peak, at where you want to be, that you can’t see how far you have come. Turn around every so often and look back at the pickup truck where you left it in the parking lot.”
I realized I needed to stop and take note of how far I had come, how much I had grown. I needed to recognize that the Lord was moving me toward the promise even if the progress was taking longer than I thought it should.
If it ever feels like you have waited so long that you aren’t moving forward anymore, if you feel like you have taken an unexpected detour, if you wonder if your tomorrow will ever come . . . stop and look back at the truck. Then go after the Lord’s revelation. Remember that sometimes it won’t be until tomorrow that the Lord will do wonders among us, but His wonders will come.
Remember That Feeble Attempts Still Bring Miracles
You may wonder how to gain access to the Lord in these times of darkness. In the middle moments of this life, it is crucial that we learn of His Atonement and how it applies to each one of us and to the people we love. Elder Tad R. Callister has written, “Every attempt to reflect upon the Atonement, to study it, to embrace it, to express appreciation for it, however small or feeble it may be, will kindle the fires of faith and work its miracle” (The Infinite Atonement, 17).
How do we begin this sincere study? A good place to start is to search the scriptures for people who have received strength through the Atonement. Learning to understand how the Savior helped them in their time of need will help us to understand how He can help us in ours.
Sometimes the thought of a study of the Atonement may overwhelm us. If you feel overwhelmed, remember the counsel of Elder Callister about “every attempt . . . however small or feeble . . .” We may feel that our efforts are small and feeble, but the Lord will always bless a seeking heart.
A friend of ours experienced this blessing many years ago. He was sitting in sacrament meeting next to his young son. As he prepared to partake of the sacrament, he opened up his scriptures to the section in the Doctrine and Covenants where the sacramental prayers are found. He wanted to study the prayers as he reflected upon the Atonement quietly. Suddenly, his little boy reached out his tiny hand and grabbed the thin paper, ripping the whole page right out of the scriptures. After church, the father came home and carefully taped the page back into place. Now, he says, every time he looks at that page in his scriptures, he is reminded that the times when we feel torn apart are the times we need the Atonement the most.
You might consider that father’s effort as being small—his study of the Atonement probably lasted a very few minutes and was stopped short when his son ripped the page. However, even though his effort had been small, his fire of faith had been kindled. He learned a powerful lesson as he reflected on the Atonement, and he was strengthened. The lesson is true for each of us—the moments when we are torn apart, brokenhearted, and downtrodden truly are the moments when we need the Atonement the most.
If you are in a middle moment, if a dark cloud hangs over your heavy heart, if your mind is filled with worry, know this, “You cannot sink farther than . . . Jesus Christ can reach. I bear testimony that as long as there is one spark of the will . . . to reach, He is there” (Truman G. Madsen, Christ and the Inner Life, 14).
This moment in the middle will not last forever. There will be an end, an answer, and a promise. All these things shall eventually work together for your good.
But right here and now, you have the privilege of journeying with the Lord.
Enjoy the journey, for I have found that we come to know Him best in the moments when we need Him most. Years from now, when you look back, you might discover that this moment, right here in the middle, was one of the most precious moments of your life.
Because it led your heart to His.
Image from Shutterstock
Discover more insights on facing trials with faith in Emily Belle Freeman's book, Making it Through the Middle: Hope and Help When the Journey Seems Long, available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.
Sometimes we can't imagine there will be an end to a hard time. But we can find hope and help even when the road seems long and dark. Using examples from her personal life and from the scriptures, Emily shares six lessons that can help all of us make it through the middle moments of our lives.